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A Marathon of One: Dana Gilmour Runs the Chicago Marathon Solo, but He is never Alone

On October 11, 2020,  Dana Gilmour ran the Chicago Marathon, by himself, near his home of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.  He was the only runner in this race, but he wasn’t alone.  Friends, supporters, his children, and women affected in some way by breast cancer joined him for the last few miles, and all along the route he carried the legacy of his late wife Amy.

 

Dana with his supporters, the proudest of whom are his children.  Son Davin shared, “I thought he did a really good job because he completed his goals of raising money.”
Dana with his supporters, the proudest of whom are his children.  Son Davin shared, “I thought he did a really good job because he completed his goals of raising money.”
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Waiting Room 2.0: A Timely Message for 2020

 

 

October 26 marks eight years since our Co-Founder Kristen Milligan passed away.  Kristen spent too much time in the gray space of uncertainty--waiting at doctor’s offices, waiting for test results, waiting for a cure. In 2010, she wrote about this state of living in one of her blog posts titled “Waiting Room.”  

 

In fact, each of us spends our entire life in the ‘waiting room,’ wondering what God’s plan is and wrestling to discern His purpose for us, all the while struggling against it because we would prefer to think we know best.  A major life event like a surgery or life-threatening illness only brings that reality to the fore.” 

 

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Waiting Room

 

 

Originally written in September 2010, Kristen’s words hold true a decade later.

 

I just heard Jonny Diaz's "Waiting Room" on the radio for the first time.  With another major surgery approaching and the thought of hours waiting for the results, the lyrics immediately captured my attention:

 

Here in this waiting room yearning for You to say go
And though I’m convinced that a yes would be best
This time You’re telling me no

It's not that I don't have an answer
It's just not the one that I'd like
But through this time Lord I must keep in mind
You're always wiser than I

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Homemade Lemonade turns into Funds for Inheritance of Hope

 

 

For months, Leeland Garrison heard about Inheritance of Hope.  His school raised money to send families on Legacy Retreats®, and then his dad became a retreat volunteer last November.  A friend attended the April 2020 eLegacy Retreat, and by July, Leeland decided he wanted to be involved himself. So, the entrepreneurial rising fourth-grader and budding philanthropist organized a lemonade stand. 

 

“I had the idea to do one a couple of years ago, but we just never followed through with it,” he says.  “But I started learning a lot about IoH, and my dad went on a retreat, and all this crazy stuff happened like my friend’s mom got cancer.  So, my mom said we could have one on the Fourth of July.”  And have one they did.

 

Leeland’s marketing strategies helped him easily surpass his fundraising goal! 
Leeland’s marketing strategies helped him easily surpass his fundraising goal!

 

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Holley Rothell Kitchen's 3 Things

 

 

Inheritance of Hope spoke with two of Holley Kitchen’s sisters, Missy Hobbs and Teri Larcom. They shared with us three pieces of advice based on how Holley lived out her last months. Holley battled metastatic breast cancer and passed away in January 2016. She serves on as a champion for researching a cure and building an intentional legacy. We celebrate her on "Holley Day", October 13. 

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Who is Holley Rothell Kitchen?

  

 

 

How can I make a memory with my kids today that will last them a lifetime?

 

Of all the things Holley Rothell Kitchen wanted to be—wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend—the role she is most widely known for is something no one wants to be: the face of metastatic breast cancer. Like most true heroes, Holley was an ordinary woman facing extraordinary circumstances. How she soared beyond those confines will forever define her as a champion of this disease. 

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Faces of Holley Day: Jen Roett discovers IoH through Kendra Scott

 

 

When Jen Roett saw Kendra Scott’s metastatic breast cancer necklace charm set on Instagram, “I was like, ‘done!’” she raves, “And I bought it as soon as it came out.”  One-year-old daughter Kennedy loved it as much as mom, and when she reached in to get a closer look, pulled the necklace right off Jen’s neck.

 

Jen went to the Kendra Scott website to find out how she could get her brand-new jewelry repaired, stumbled upon the relationship between Kendra Scott and Inheritance of Hope, and she says, “I began hysterically sobbing, I was so moved.”  The very next day, Jen signed up to volunteer on the February 2019 Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando, which was sponsored by Kendra Scott, for families affected by metastatic breast cancer.   

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Faces of Holley Day: Andrea Albanese receives a Kendra Scott gift that raises spirits and funds for IoH

As a young widow raising five children, Andrea Albanese wants her late husband Jim to be remembered and acknowledged. “Culturally, we are afraid of grief and afraid to say the name of the person who passed away,” she laments.  “People might drop off a casserole and run. But, I would say to please talk about my husband with my kids. They want to hear about their father. He is still part of our lives.”   

 

And that is exactly why a special gift created just for Andrea made such an impression on her last October. 

 

Andrea and Jim shortly before he passed away
Andrea and Jim shortly before he passed away
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A Marathon of a Friendship: The Loerzel and Douglas Families are in it together for the long haul

It’s a friendship from the era of floppy discs and homemade scrapbooks.  Chris Douglas and Greg Loerzel met in the computer lab of North Dakota State University as aspiring engineers, and Greg’s wife Maria has proof of the many adventures they have had ever since. 

 

Chris (left) and Greg have been friends for over two decades
Chris (left) and Greg have been friends for over two decades
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Family Spotlight: The Crawford and Loner Families maintain hope in the face of ALS

This blog post was originally published in 2016, and these families have both had many changes since then--happy changes!  The Loners now have two healthy grandchildren they enjoy spending time with, and are proud to report that their three grown children are thriving as well.  Niece Abigale has volunteered on three Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatsⓇ, and collaborated with Craig in making this video: https://youtu.be/hnDAtDqcHKE last May for ALS awareness month in 2019.

 

Heather Crawford Dodd, now on staff at IoH, began volunteering on retreats in October 2016, not too long after this article was written.  In May 2017, she met Tom Dodd, also a former family member served-turned volunteer.  They married the following December and live in South Carolina with their four boys.  

 

When we first ran this story, little did we know it was just the beginning.  Heather, Dana, and Craig are in touch weekly--by text and often in person.  Before the coronavirus pandemic, Dana and Craig would drive over an hour to Heather's home every few months and help prepare materials for upcoming IoH retreats.  Even now, they frequently check on each other, and provide love and support both ways--as Heather looks to Dana for advice on how to be a good stepmom, "She is an incredibly patient, strong, and selfless woman and a huge inspiration and encouragement to me," remarked Heather. Dana calls Heather an angel sent just when she needed her most, and describes Heather in just the same way as Heather describes Dana, “she continues to be a source of inspiration and encouragement to me.”

 

We are honored to call these folks family and celebrate the hope they maintain and give to others. 

 

 

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If they stumble, the first will lift up his friend—but woe to anyone who is alone when he falls and there is no one to help him get up.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

 

One of the goals of Inheritance of Hope (IoH) is to connect families. Families who are grieving a life-changing diagnosis, struggling with fears, and facing new realities draw strength from each other as they share experiences and burdens.  Through IoH, new friendships are often formed that offer a depth of understanding many families can’t find elsewhere.

 

The support that is shared is sometimes intangible and immeasurable, yet always tremendous. Sometimes, the support may be tangible yet also tremendously immeasurable, as was the case when Heather Crawford donated a wheelchair van to fellow IoH family Craig and Dana Loner.

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