Sometimes in life you do things not because they’re easy, but because of this mantra: If not you, then who?
So it is with mother and daughter Judi Loomis and Gretchen Freund of New Franklin. They’ve been consumed with doing absolutely everything they can think of — advocating and fundraising — to help find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Gretchen, 36, has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease: a relentlessly devastating neuromuscular disease for which there is no cure. The diagnosis is dreadful and has no escape hatch; it is always fatal.
Even so, the mindset this mother and daughter are embracing, in spite of what lies ahead, is inspirational on so many levels.
On Sunday, Gretchen and her mother are sponsoring an ALS Chili Cookoff at 12:30 p.m. at the Getaway Pub, 1462 Portage Path, Akron. The afternoon includes watching the Browns play the Bengals, a 50/50 raffle and a chance to win Browns memorabilia baskets.
If you have the time, come and support Team Gretchen.
Helping a neighbor
Delighted mother Misty Speedy of Barberton emailed and called with this heroes’ story:
“I don’t think that kids coming to the rescue of and helping the elderly are easily found these days.
“But as I sat waiting to wake my daughter for school this morning, I saw three boys racing across my lawn and to my front door asking for me to call 911 … Apparently while waiting for the school bus this morning, my 11-year-old son Avery and his three friends heard a noise that they thought was a cat, and they looked up the street; they saw an elderly lady sitting in her driveway yelling for help … She was taking out the trash and got caught up in the handle of the bag and tripped. She fell, hitting her head hard enough to bust it open.”
“My son stayed with her while the other three [12-year-old Andrew Hylton, 13-year-old Scott Cominsky and 12-year-old Dakota Kaufman] ran to me, asking for the 911 call. Apparently my son was the only one who could handle seeing that much blood, which really surprised me,” Speedy continued.
“There’s not a lot of movement in this neighborhood at 7 o’clock in the morning. If not for those boys rushing into action she may not have been found for quite some time or had worse injuries than she ended up with.”
Speedy told the boys to get on the bus and she waited with the woman until paramedics arrived. Much to Speedy’s surprise, the woman refused to be transported, electing instead to wait for her daughter.
Speedy said when the four heroes returned from school that afternoon they went rushing to the woman’s home to see if she was all right. No answer at her house as yet.
“All of them said they had trouble concentrating at school because they couldn’t keep their minds off the woman … It’s just nice to know there are still loving children out there, and knowing that these boys are growing up to be loving and compassionate young men makes all of the mothers involved very proud!”
The irony, Speedy pointed out, is that school bus stop used to be two blocks away.
Hooray for Hannah Paulin, who completed the recent Akron Marathon and, in doing so, has inspired others who find themselves on the same not-so-sure-where-this-road-is-leading journey.
The 36-year-old was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2009, and is cancer-free today.
This was her first marathon. “It was a personal goal of mine; something I wanted to cross off my list,” said Hannah, chief of development at Invent Now (formerly the National Inventors Hall of Fame).
Her father, Richard Smith, alerted me to his daughter’s achievement: “I believe there is a story here which would let people realize what they might also be able to accomplish in their battle with cancer!” And he’s correct.
Supported at every turn by her husband, Michael, and her best friend, Danielle Hupp, Hannah began training some six months ago, mostly at Sand Run Park. “Then I started running the blue line once they got it on the road,” Hannah said.
Her goal was to beat Hollywood star Katie Holmes’ New York City Marathon time of 5 hours, 30 minutes. She finished at 4 hours, 49 minutes. About the marathon experience, she said, “It was an emotional thing.”
Pies for Haven of Rest
Hats off to students at Richardson Elementary School in Cuyahoga Falls who are sponsoring their second annual “Pennies for Pies” fundraiser.
“Students bring in loose change from home,” wrote Rebecca Jones, the school’s Market Day coordinator. “Each classroom has a jar to fill with change.
Today, “all change is counted and used to purchase pies to be donated to the Haven of Rest Ministries in Akron. Pies will be delivered to the school Monday, Oct. 22, after 5 p.m.
“Last year students collected over $800 and donated 64 pies to the Haven of Rest … In spite of the difficult economy, students are still bringing in change to help the less fortunate. The pies are purchased from Market Day which donates a percentage back to the school; last year it was $450.
I have University of Akron senior Steven Yoak, who is doing his student teaching at Coventry Middle School mentored by sixth-grade science teacher Jim Trogdon, to thank for this one.
“I started a pop-tab collection for the Ronald McDonald House in Akron. I teach six classes and each is competing against each other to collect tabs. The class that collects the most pop tabs by Oct. 19 wins a Red Lobster dinner for lunch,” Yoak said.
“Red Lobster (Montrose) has donated the entire meal to one class. Currently we have collected over 160,000 pop tabs. We are having the lunch at the school on Oct. 26.”
Anne Collins, executive director of Akron’s Ronald McDonald House, said the aluminum pop-tabs program has been very lucrative for the house. “Once the pop tabs are delivered to us, we take them to a recycler and are paid by the pound,” Collins said. “That’s usually 55 to 65 or 70 cents a pound depending on what aluminum is going for.
“We usually come away with a check close to $300. That would be from 12 plastic cases (each is a 66-quart bin) … All of the money comes back to the house and is used to purchase something our families will enjoy.”
In the past those purchases have included a computer for the family room, a Bose radio for the dining room and a digital camera used to take pictures of our families for Facebook.”
Collins said the program made more than $4,000 last year alone.
Memories of guard
A sweet followup to my Sept. 17 column about 83-year-old Clark Rumiser, a Hudson schools crossing guard who has been on the job 41 years.
“When I was in (Evamere) elementary school in the late ’70s Clark was at the North Hayden and (state) Route 303 location,” wrote Kipp Blackburn, a residential consultant with Dream Town Realty in Chicago.
“My beloved cat — Buzz, a dark-colored tabby cat with tiger stripes — once followed me to school, and Clark was nice enough to walk her home. My mom was so surprised when Clark knocked at the door! …
“My mom always liked Clark … I’ll have to ask if she remembers any more stories about Clark and his friendly deeds. I just remember how nice he was and how much I enjoyed seeing him twice a day.”
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.