September is finally here. The kids are all back in school, Hudson High School football team and marching band are in full swing and the days are slowly getting shorter. It’s time to take in the nice weather and sunshine before it fades. Here are some great stories about fellow community members. Enjoy.
2022 HHS graduate Claire Ortiz-Witter is the proud designer and builder of the new Little Free Library in Nottingham Gates Estates. The neighborhood had posted about wanting a little library, and Claire’s mom mentioned it to her. The family has a workshop in the basement. Claire, who has a passion for building and an even larger passion for reading, went straight to work.
“When I was younger, I could not get enough books. I love to read, and I wanted to pass this on to the kids in our community,” she said.
On Aug. 13, Nottingham Gates held a book drive that also included a special reader Professor William Bintz from Kent State University. The neighbors collected over a hundred books to fill the neighborhood library and to donate to the Cleveland Book Bank.
“I wanted this to be something that not only touched our community but was able to impact others outside of Hudson,” Claire explained. “We are so lucky to have the abundance of reading material that we do in our community and schools.”
Claire will be attending Northwest University in Illinois to study computer science. Thank you, Claire, for building a beautiful Free Little Library for our neighbors!
The Bedzyk family made the most of their summer vacation with a July trip to Belize. Courtney and Joe took their children, Kyler and Aislynne, on an epic adventure (despite lost luggage during the first three days. They ate amazing food everywhere, according to the couple, snorkeled and swam with stingrays and sharks, and saw the split in the island created by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. The trip also included cave tubing, ziplining, a tour to a chocolate factory, eating the best lobster at a roadside stand and going to the Belize Zoo. They topped off the adventure by going to the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reservation. Next up: Costa Rica.
The Jones family, for their part, vacationed in Hawaii in July. Parents Matthew and Melissa and children Laura, Andrew and Asher took surfing lessons, visited Pearl Harbor, went snorkeling and also ate amazing food. Wouldn’t we all love to keep up with these Joneses!
Speaking of keeping up, Hudson Middle School triplets Isa, Mia and Max Dooley crushed it at Twins Days 5K in Twinsburg last month. The trio placed second overall in the team category with individual awards, too. In their age group (11-15), Max won among boys; Mia won among girls.
“We have won a lot of races, but this was fun because it was all twins and triplets,” said Isa. “It was great to see sets support each other as they ran the race. It was also cool to see everybody dressed like their sibling. This was definitely one of the coolest races we’ve done and coming in 2nd place as a team made it even better.” Congratulations!!!
HHS graduates Ed and Krista Fink, class of 1996 and 1995, respectively, took what could have been a heart wrenching diagnosis and turned it into something to help others. In 2020, their son Dylan, 14 at the time, was diagnosed with a rare form of Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“We had to take things one day at a time,” said Krista. “You are just never prepared for a diagnosis like that for your child. And we recognized while going through treatment, that not all families have the support that we did during such a critical time. Dylan had gone through over 10 blood transfusions and several rounds of chemotherapy.”
“Every morning, I would go to St Mary [Catholic Church] to pray. It was what I knew I could do,” recalled Ed. “People were so kind and generous to us.”
As Dylan entered remission in 2021, the couple, who now lives in Stow, created Fearless Fighters Foundation. Through golf outings, 5K runs and charity concerts, the nonprofit raises money to help other children and families suffering from cancer. The Finks realized that so much is taken away from children who are in treatment and doing one thing to help brighten their day makes a huge difference. They have partnered with Akron Children’s Hospital to donate $25,000 toward an entertainment and gaming system and to hold ice cream socials for children and teens in treatment. Their goal is to continue fundraising efforts and create care packages for newly diagnosed children and teens.
“We want to celebrate the small victories, because they lead to the big ones,” Krista said.
Fearless Fighters will host a Survivor 5K Run on Sunday, Sept. 25. For more information on the event and how to help, visit fearless-fighers.org.
Hudsonite Lea Heidman is doing her part to raise addiction awareness. Lea’s daughter, Alyssa Apostolakis, sadly lost her battle with addiction in March 2016, despite her family’s best efforts to assist in her recovery.
“As parents, we did not have the education to help her seven years ago,” Lea recalled. “She had gone through the recovery process, and we had no idea she was using again. What people know now in comparison will help them to help fight this battle. Mothers never heal from this.”
Six weeks after her daughter’s passing, Lea started Fighting for Alyssa, a group that raises money to fight this insidious monster taking our loved ones. Her most recent fundraiser was at Firestone Country Club in late August. The pouring in of donations for silent auction items has been overwhelming with many of them from community members. The organization’s goal is to raise $100,000, which stays in our community and surrounding communities. If you would like more information, go to fightingforalyssa.org.
Congratulations to Mark and Jackie Palumbo on celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. The couple met at Kent State, and on a very special Christmas Eve, Mark proposed to Jackie. Twenty years later they have two boys who attend Hudson High School and would not want it any other way.
Please share your good news at email@example.com and make it a great day. ∞