Jewell Cardwell

Twelve years ago on Valentine’s Day, I introduced you to a Stow couple, Jim and Carol Starkey.

Amazingly it was Jim who had written to share their love story: “See, my wife of 40 years was my girlfriend in the first grade and every day thereafter. We truly are soul mates. Neither one would have ever guessed at the start how much that we would love each other after these 40 years … I believe God joined us together even before that first grade.”

Starkey and the former Carol Blaz attended elementary school and graduated in 1959 from Manchester High School together.

The Starkeys had a son, Jim, in 1962, who had major neurological handicaps, learning disabilities and more. “No one will ever know how difficult my wife’s life has been to survive all the experiences that we have gone through with him,” Starkey said then.

Over the years, Carol, an assistant librarian with Stow-Munroe Falls schools and mother of two, developed heart valve disease and cardiomyopathy. “I took my wife to Boston — to Brigham and Women’s Hospital — to be examined by a world-renowned cardiologist. She was operated on and was treated for several heart conditions …

“Without her I would never be me. I cannot remember a time when she was not at my side.”

This week, I received an update email from Jim Starkey:

“Just wanted to let you know my wife is in hospice on Ridgewood Road …”

“This soon will be a journey that I cannot be by her side. A couple of days ago, she raised up, hugged me and said, ‘I do not want you to have any regrets. I always knew from Day One how much you loved me. You will continue to do the right thing.’ I said, ‘Well, I have not always done the right thing.’ She smiled and replied, ‘But when you didn’t, it always gave us something to laugh at.’

“Then she hugged me and said, ‘When I get to heaven I will save you a seat.’ What a wonderful person she is.”

At this writing the Starkeys have been married 52 years and truly in love for a whole lot more.

Please, dear readers, keep both in your prayers and learn to love by their example.

Fundraiser for survivors

Aluminum Cans for Burned Children (ACBC) will be hosting its annual fundraiser at 6 p.m. Oct. 18 at St. George Family Center, 3204 Ridgewood Road, Akron.

All proceeds benefit burn survivors who are or have been patients in Akron Children’s Hospital’s Paul and Carol David Foundation Burn Institute.

“By supporting this local event you are investing in our community,” said Mark Harper, Akron firefighter and event organizer. “It is important for burn survivors to know that the community is here to support them.”

The fundraiser costs $80 for a couple or $50 for a single, and includes a social hour followed by dinner, live and silent auctions, basket raffles and a reverse raffle with a grand prize of $1,500. Please call 330-535-8813 to make your reservation. Sponsorship for burn survivors also can be purchased.

Raffle and auction items still needed. To learn more, please email Tricia Kendrick at takendrick@kendrickenvironmental.com; or contact Mark Harper for general information or to sponsor a survivor at 330-813-0585 or pubed2@aol.com.

Fazio reunion party

Former employees of the Akron, Canton and Cleveland-area Fazio grocery stores won’t be in anyone’s checkout lines come Sunday. They will, however, be checking in on one another after all those years of not seeing each other on the job.

The reunion party is planned for 1 to 6 p.m. at the VFW Pavilion, 690 W. Waterloo Road, Akron.

Event organizer Cathy Brown said lots of fun activities are planned. Food is being provided with attendees asked to bring their own beverages. Cost is $10, adults; $5, children. For more information, please call Brown at 330-785-1871.

Nonprofits to get cars

The All-Star Training Club is one of 250 finalists in “Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good” program, which is poised to award vehicles to 100 nonprofits based on votes received by Tuesday.

Executive Director Dan Lancianese is asking for the public’s support in the club’s quest for a new Toyota Sienna. Visitors to www.Facebook.com/Toyota receive two votes each day to select two organizations they feel deserve the vehicles.

“If All-Star Training receives the most votes and is awarded the vehicle, it will be used for our athletes with disabilities who have difficulty consistently attending programs due to lack of reliable transportation,” Lancianese said. “The addition of a company van would help ATC begin to eliminate the barriers that stand in the way of individuals with disabilities living a healthier and more energetic life.”

ATC is a nonprofit “established for the purpose of providing integrated sports, educational and social/emotional programs for individuals with or without disabilities where mental and physical limitations are not considered. ATC is also a sanctioned Special Olympic organization.”

Gala benefit

“A Celebration of Life” is the theme for the Akron General Women’s Board Gala — a black-tie dinner, auction, VIP cocktail reception and entertainment — scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn, 3180 W. Market St., Akron. Master of ceremonies will be WKYC-TV’s chief meteorologist Betsy Kling.

The women’s board has donated more than $6 million to hospital services and clinic programs. Members also fulfill roles as hospital volunteers and goodwill ambassadors for the Akron General Health System.

Proceeds from this year’s gala benefit the Akron General McDowell Cancer Center and the Tony Gorant Community Leadership Institute.

Ticket information is available by calling 330-344-6541 or emailing Lisa Russell at lisa.russell@akrongeneral.org.

Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or jcardwell@thebeaconjournal.com.