In spite of her unimaginable journey, Phyllis Cottle was always so grateful for all of the help she received at the Akron Blind Center following the 1984 attack in which she was raped, robbed, blinded with a knife and left to die in a burning car by Samuel J. Herring, who was just weeks out of prison on parole.
The center made such a positive difference in her life, and Phyllis talked about it every chance she got, even on her deathbed.
As way to honor Phyllis, who died Jan. 25 of cancer, the center has formally named the Phyllis Cottle Memorial Scholarship, for visually impaired high school seniors wanting to pursue college.
After all, Phyllis was instrumental in pushing to set up such a scholarship.
To donate or learn more about it, please call 330-253-2555; or write Akron Blind Center, 325 E. Market St., Akron, OH 44304.
Big, beautiful bouquets to everyone who is passionately committed to organ donation.
Folks like Richard “Dick” Laber, formerly of Uniontown, now of Hartville, who donated a kidney 15 years ago to his nephew, Dr. Scott Campbell.
Scott’s problem surfaced when he was 18 and diagnosed with Busse-Buschke disease, which settled in the kidneys. His sister Nancy donated the first kidney.
Eleven years later, Scott again drifted into kidney failure and was placed on the transplant list at the Cleveland Clinic.
“My dad ended up being a better match after his first kidney transplant failed, and things have gone great since then,” Ashley Laber, Richard’s daughter, said. “Scott is an ER doctor at Firelands Hospital and every year likes to do something special for my dad.”
He recently organized a surprise party for Laber and more than 100 friends at Tangier in Akron to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the transplant.
While I wasn’t able to attend last month’s party, I do have fond memories of Laber, who I met a year after the transplant. The American Red Cross was celebrating his generosity in donating blood. At that time, he had been doing so for 30 years and had donated more than 16 gallons.
“He’s still donating blood and just reached 24 gallons, which is 192 pints,” his daughter added.
The 68-year-old has been an unsung hero much of his life and in a wide variety of arenas.
“For 16 years, every first Sunday in August he drove an antique car in the parade at Apple Creek Developmental Center, whose patients the world would have just as soon turned its back on,” I wrote in a 1999 column.
“It was like the Super Bowl to them,” Laber said. “Know what? It never rained.”
Maybe he was just too busy spreading sunshine to notice.
World Kidney Day
The Kidney Foundation of Summit County is joining forces with the YMCA (Summa location at 477 E. Market St., Akron) to celebrate “World Kidney Day” on March 14, providing free literature and blood pressure screenings for the community.
Carolyn Aylward Henretta, spokeswoman for the Kidney Foundation of Summit County, said the goal of the special day “is to promote kidney health and bring awareness to chronic kidney disease, which affects one in nine adults in the United States.”
Picture party is benefit
Lee Spencer Photography has set into motion plans for the fourth annual “Wishes Can Happen Picture Party” 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Good Friday, March 29, at the studio, 440 N. Main St., Suite B, North Canton.
“Guests can have photographs taken with friends and family, using wacky props provided at the studio,” wife and studio co-owner Tammy Spencer noted.
“Images will be posted to Facebook for them to use at no cost as profile pictures and to share with friends.”
All proceeds will go to the local all-volunteer, nonprofit Wishes Can Happen, which grants wishes — big and small — to children with life-threatening illnesses.
Lee and Tammy Spencer have a very personal interest in helping Wishes Can Happen as it touched their family by reaching out to Lee’s sister, Amy Lynn Spencer. “At 14, Amy, a gifted ballet dancer, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” Tammy said. “As the illness limited her dance, Amy wished to learn to play the classical music that moved her.
“Wishes Can Happen granted Amy’s wish by providing her with a piano and lessons. Amy learned to play the music she loved before passing away in 1984 at the age of 16.”
The goal is to raise $10,000. For more information, please visit www.leespencerphoto.com or call Tammy Spencer at 330-499-1665.
Monte Carlo Night
Catholic Charities Community Services of Summit County is hosting its seventh annual “Monte Carlo Night” — sponsored by J.W. Didado Electric Inc. — 6 to 11 p.m. March 15 at Todaro’s Party Center, 1820 Akron-Peninsula Road, Cuyahoga Falls. All proceeds benefit the group’s Basic Needs Program, which includes the food pantry, hot meals and emergency assistance (all administered from the North Hill location at Blessed Trinity Catholic Parish).
The $75 ticket includes an open bar, food, $300 in funny money, Vegas-style games, euchre tournament, mini reverse raffle, live entertainment, silent auction, a bevy of prizes and so much more. Call 330-762-2961, ext. 220, or visit www.ccmontecarlo.org for more information.
Improving troop morale
I’m singing the praises today of local native and Air Force Master Sgt. Bradley Bennett, who is preparing to deploy with Vector — a popular music ensemble made up of eight members from the Concert Band, Singing Sergeants, Airmen of Note and Technical Support flights — to perform in the Middle East to help with troop morale and for diplomatic performances.
According to a recent Air Force news release, “As a part of their pre-deployment training, trainees learn ways to care for fellow Airmen, whether facing fire from opposing forces or caring for their teammates who may have been harmed in combat. The 10-day training includes experience in weapons training, field navigation, first aid and leadership.”
Bradley, whose talents I first learned about eight years ago when he sang the national anthem at President George W. Bush’s second inauguration ceremony, is a graduate of Kent Roosevelt High School and Kent State University, and a member of the Air Force since 2000. He’s the son of Karen Bennett of Brady Lake and the late Les Bennett, who was a much-loved teacher and choir director at Tallmadge High School. The Les Bennett Center is named for him.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org