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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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Living Through a Legacy

We are honored to feature Kaila Hayden as a guest blogger this month in recognition of ALS awareness month.  Kaila and her family were served on the August 2014 Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat in Orlando.  Kaila has since volunteered on four retreats, and brings a special compassion to the families she serves.

 

When you lose a loved one, you find yourself clinging to that which reminds you most of them. Their belongings, their hobbies, their interests, whatever was left to you as a memory of their life. After my mom passed, I found myself surrounded by her in photos, in memories, in the gifts and cards for milestones she would miss. When faced with death, she sought intention to leave behind. 



The Hayden Family making a friend on their IoH Legacy Retreat®
The Hayden Family making a friend on their IoH Legacy Retreat®
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IoH Family Spotlight Lex and Brooke Berthelsen: Telling their story

Lex Berthelsen was shocked in December 2017 upon being diagnosed with grade 3a stage IV follicular lymphoma.  The father of three, along with his wife Brooke, immediately sought out cancer survivors and cancer thrivers, relationships that led them to Inheritance of Hope. 

 

“We weren’t sure,” Brooke remembered, “but we printed out the application for an IoH Legacy Retreat® anyway, and did it.  I’m so grateful we did.”

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What Can be Done with ALS

In these days of uncertainty and limited social interaction, you might find yourself frustrated by the way your life has changed over the past few weeks (or even days).  Those of us with ALS or other debilitating diseases get it. But if we can adapt, you can too! 

 

The Douglas family making lifelong memories on their Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat®
The Douglas family made lifelong memories on their Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat® in May 2017
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IoH Welcomes 11 new volunteers in New York City!

11 new volunteers joined the IoH family to take a bite out of the Big Apple during our recent Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ in NYC.  Meet a few of them here!

 

Front row (l to r): Libby Storm, Anneli Shaw, Baylie McClafferty, Katie Atwater Middle row (l to r): Jensi Shaw, Jennifer Weitz, Claire Weitz, Jane Augur Back row (l to r): Nick Ranieri, Charlie Garrison, Roger Lykins
Front row (l to r): Libby Storm, Anneli Shaw, Baylie McClafferty, Katie Atwater
Middle row (l to r): Jensi Shaw, Jennifer Weitz, Claire Weitz, Jane Augur
Back row (l to r): Nick Ranieri, Charlie Garrison, Roger Lykins
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Sixteen-year-old Ethan Harned continues to inspire hope

As a fourteen-year-old high school freshman, Ethan Harned emptied his savings, not to buy video games or the latest Nike Air Force Ones, but to support a charity he had only just learned about.  It has been two years now since Ethan met Carrey Dewey, a young mother living with ALS whose family was greatly impacted by Inheritance of Hope.  And since then, Ethan has been on a mission to make a difference.  

 

High-schooler Ethan Harned makes a difference beyond his home in Louisville, Kentucky
High-schooler Ethan Harned makes a difference beyond his home in Louisville, Kentucky
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Faces of Holley Day: Jake Anderson honors his wife’s memory by paying it forward

Jake Anderson can’t describe his wife Becky without mentioning her smile, “You don't have to say anything else--you could just see her smile.”  That smile was a window into how Becky lived with her metastatic breast cancer diagnosis amidst raising three young children.  

 

According to Jake, Becky was always hopeful, and while he can't pinpoint exactly how she maintained her hope and faith, he does have a name for it, “I think if you knew her, well, there was a grace about her.  She would put everyone else at ease,” he says. “It felt like everything was ok because she was ok. She made it easy for everybody and always looked on the bright side--right from the beginning. I think the word for her is grace,” he pauses, “and then, there was the smile.” 

 

Becky’s bright smile showed her love for life
Becky’s bright smile showed her love for life
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Faces of Holley Day: Kendra Scott connection inspires service to Inheritance of Hope families

Two weeks before Kendra Scott’s company-wide event, Ally Dee knew Holley Day was “something big.”  As a Kendra Scott sales associate, Ally especially enjoyed meeting guests and welcoming nonprofits that benefit from the jewelry designer’s generous philanthropy.  Holley Day would prove to be even more than she expected.

 

Ally remembers, “The energy that day was different. Kendra Scott stores have a lot of events, but we all knew this was special.  I always liked talking to the people who came in from different organizations and learning about what they do, so I started talking to the Inheritance of Hope rep, not really thinking it was going to be this big. I’m glad I did!” 

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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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