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Lynnhaven neighbors, friends and families gathered at the Churchill Street picnic pavilion behind the recreation center early Friday morning, November 10th, for a Walk-A-Thon to honor Marilyn Hetzer and John Grace in their battle against lymphoma. The Charity Chicks of Lynnhaven organized the Walk-A-Thon to raise money for the Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation at Shands in Gainesville. The Charity Chicks support a different charity each month; this month, they chose to support fellow Lynnhaven friends and neighbors, Marilyn Hetzer and John Grace, who are both battling lymphoma and being treated at Shands. The Shands Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation was set up to help families of transplant patients staying at or near the cancer hospital. It also helps them out with gas and food gift cards, which is so appreciated by the patients and their families, as Marilyn and John can attest.
Although a bit chilly starting out, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day for a walk. All the Charity Chicks wore their pink tee shirts and they were ready to go. We could choose a 1-mile, 2-mile or 3-mile walk... or we could just stop by to drop off a donation. Donna Grillo was accepting donations at her house for those who wanted to contribute but couldn't be here or do the walk, and some people mailed her their donation, but most dropped their donation off the day of the walk.
Friends gathered under and around the pavilion, not missing a chance to meet, greet and chat... what we do best in Lynnhaven. Judy Emery brought her daughter and grandchild along and Sharon Testerman brought her dog along for the exercise. We were surprised to have both John and Marilyn there to support the walkers, relishing seeing and talking with friends again. Marilyn had been at Shands and came home just for this event. She and Dan headed back again after the event. She and John couldn't do the walk themselves, but joined in on John's golf cart, then beat everyone back to the pavilion to thank them for participating as they finished their walk. Of course, it was another opportunity to spend more time with friends.
A photographer and reporter showed up to take some pictures and learn more about the walk and participants. Some pictures were taken, then we were organized into three groups based on the length of the walk we were going to attempt. Lauren Whitehouse thanked everyone for coming and explained the three routes. Donna Grillo gave us a brief history of the Charity Chicks and wished everyone well. And Marilyn thanked everyone who came out for this event on behalf of herself and John.
Each group formed behind its leader, who held balloons. Even if we lagged behind a bit, talking as we walked, we could follow the balloons. It wasn't a race so we could all walk at our own pace. Everyone was ready to go. John and Marilyn started out in front, but slipped back to let the walkers follow their leader, as the trail of walkers lined the streets. John and Marilyn were there for moral support.
Some set out on a mission and were there for the walk, the exercise, and the challenge. Others were there to enjoy the event with friends and the beautiful weather.
Fred Heidemann followed behind the groups to offer walkers some water, or to take folks home if they couldn't do the walk that they hoped to complete. Everyone was supposed to end up back at the pavilion, but some headed for home after they covered most of their walk. Some had tee times and had to get home to get ready for that.
Those who finished their walk and ended up at the pavilion hung around to socialize a bit more and wait for and congratulate friends. John and Marilyn greeted everyone as they returned. The baby was a big winner, too. Lauren awarded him all the balloons, and his mom took a picture of him, his balloons, and the neighbors.
Lauren thanked everyone again and congratulated them for finishing the walk. Congratulations, ALL, even if you weren't able to finish the walk you'd hoped to make. Good job, everyone! And good work by the Charity Chicks of Lynnhaven. At the end of the day, Lauren reported that $2,875 was raised. Donations dropped off at Donna's and arriving by mail, took the amount over $3,000.
Read the Thank You John sent on behalf of Marilyn and himself.
If you'd like to know more about the Charity Chicks of Lynnhaven and think you might want to join them, contact Donna Grillo (click on link for email address) at 751-5915.