Heroes come from many different walks of life, and many different ages.
If she hadn’t known that before, Akron’s Barbara Hampton knows it now.
Although Hampton was no stranger to her next-door neighbors, James and Crystal Spangler and their three children, she will forever view 9-year-old Jason Spangler through a much different lens.
Hampton tells the story of pulling into their shared driveway on Christmas with her husband, Dave, who has been oxygen-dependent since 2001. Earlier in the day the Hamptons attended a family dinner at her daughter’s home about three blocks away.
“I always take a portable, reserve tank wherever we go. I even filled two just in case,” she said. “When we first got to our daughter’s house the first [tank] quit. Very undependable!
“So, I put the second one on and we had dinner, opened gifts and gathered for family photos. … His portable, when he inhales, always puffs. But during the pictures we noticed it had stopped puffing.
“Our son-in-law helped get him in the car,” Hampton continued. “As I was pulling out of their driveway my husband collapses forward. We both were panicking! Then he became semi-conscious!
“When I got to our driveway the neighbor children were outside playing,” she noted. “They’ve adopted us and we’ve adopted them. When we see them they always run to give hugs. … Well, Jason — the first one to get to me — came running with his arms out. … I quickly grabbed him by the shoulders and said, ‘Nader Bomb [her husband’s name for the lad], Papa can’t breathe. He’s out of air!’ ”
Hampton rushed into her house, turned on the larger oxygen tank, grabbed the cannula connected to it and passed it to a waiting and calm Jason. “I told him to put it on Papa while I was still playing with the dials to get it to work. … That little boy knew enough to hold my husband back in the seat and how to get the cannula under his nose and around the ears. I guess he knew that just from seeing my husband so much. … As soon as it [the oxygen] got going everything was OK. And my husband came to just like nothing had ever happened.
“There was just no way I could have gotten all that done in time to save my husband,” Hampton said. “My legs just don’t run as fast as a 9-year-old’s.”
Soon afterward, Hampton said, her son arrived and got her husband into their house.
“I’m so blessed to have the kind of phenomenal neighbors that I have,” a grateful Barbara Hampton said. “If it wasn’t for little Jason I’m not sure I would still have my husband — who’s had pneumonia twice since September — with me!”
Snowflakes to donate
The Connecticut Parent Teacher Association issued an invitation for the nation to help make a winter wonderland for Sandy Hook Elementary students, by making snowflakes to adorn the new school they will soon begin attending.
The idea caught fire, and now a polite cease-and-desist order has been issued: Due to the overwhelming response, they are requesting that people stop sending snowflakes. They have a tractor trailer full and cannot house any more.
The cancellation order reached Nell Wertz, owner of the local All Fired Up! pottery-painting studio, who had already invited the community to help create 300 snowflakes to send to the school.
But it’s still on with the show. Wertz will be looking instead for a charitable cause where they will be donated. “I have two NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] graduates, so we may donate them to Akron Children’s Hospital,” Wertz said. But that has yet to be decided.
“I have 144 ceramic snowflake ornaments and some brass and other art forms to be painted. Also, fused glass.”
Interested in participating in this exercise of bringing peace and joy? Here is the schedule to create snowflakes:
• 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.
• 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.
• 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.
• 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday.
For more information, please visit www.allfiredup akron.com or call 330-701-0412.
All Fired Up! recently relocated to 30 Rothrock Loop, Copley (behind Danny Vegh’s and Golf Galaxy).
Dolls go a long way
Wadsworth’s Jan Householder — founder of the volunteer Giving Doll Ministry which delivers soft-sculpture dolls all over the nation to children under stress — has announced plans to send 20 dolls (12 girls and 8 boys) to Ronald McDonald Houses in every state “in memory of the lost children” in the Sandy Hook tragedy, Householder said.
Ronald McDonald Houses provide a home away from home for families who live great distances away from the hospitals where their children are patients.
“Newtown suggested that an outreach should be made to local charities since they have gotten so much.
“We are going to make sure these dolls have red shoes [like Ronald McDonald]. … I have Giving Doll groups in 12 states and they are getting on board too.
“There are 305 total [Ronald McDonald Houses] in the U.S. Maybe we will be able to get dolls to all of them by year’s end,” Householder added.
Katherine McVey, diagnosed at 12 with an aggressive and rare brain stem cancer, was the recipient of the first Giving Doll. The Stow girl, who died March 18, 2007, was the daughter of Wayne and Paula McVey and the sister of Ian.
“When we get to Doll 15,000 — probably in the summer — Katherine’s mom and I are going to take it to the [Ronald McDonald] House in Memphis. … Katherine and her family stayed there when she was in treatment,” Householder said. “What a blessing this ministry has been to so many. I am amazed and humbled every day at how God has blessed us, opened up doors and provided a way to bring comfort to so many special children.”
Christmas cards can help
Looking for a place to donate the Christmas cards you loved receiving but are willing to send to a good home?
St. Jude’s Ranch, which cares for abused, abandoned and neglected children, has a massive recycled greeting card program.
Please send to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, 100 St. Jude St., Boulder City, NV 89005.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.