by Melissa Brunner
Twice in the past two weeks I have had the honor of sharing stories that highlight the true meaning of community.
First, I traveled to Perry, where classmates have rallied around 17-year-old Zach Linquist since his diagnosis with leukemia. They are selling t-shirts and bracelets. Some even are giving up what would be money earned through an entrepreneurship exercise to assist Zach and his family with medical expenses. Why? They simply say it's because he needs it more - and they know he would do the same for them. (They also tell me Zach has an off-beat sense of humor that keeps them laughing!)
This week, I visited Clay Center. There, seven-year-old Luke Hauserman has lost his hair to chemotherapy treatments for leukemia. His second grade classmates didn't want him to feel all alone in his fight, so the boys have shaved their heads so they, too, are bald. (Luke says he thought they all looked funny when he saw them!) The school also is holding fundraisers and the high school football team adopted Luke as their honorary captain for a game. (Luke says it was cool to be on the sidelines with the players - they even hit the back of his wheelchair once when they ran out of bounds - yikes!)
A potentially deadly illness can be very isolating for a person and their family. Even with the bright prognosis both of these young men have right now, it is still a scary time. It was inspiring to see, not only their positive attitudes, but also, the response of their communities. Luke's mom says she has never felt more caring and compassion than she does right now. It is a sense, she says, of being lifted by an entire community.
In this world where we spend so much time hearing the negative, it was nice to witness the positive feelings of communities coming together.