Beth O’Donnell

Hair donation commemorates anniversary of sister’s death

January 14, 2010 // 0 Comments

by ANA OLVERA  In honor of the October 17 anniversary of her sister Barbara Liggins’ death from leukemia, Beth O’Donnell of Rockford was motivated to cut and donate her hair to enable children with hair loss a chance to use hers. Liggins of Kalamazoo was diagnosed in May 1991, the same day as her youngest son Gregory’s birthday. She was admitted into the hospital that very same day. Liggins’ sons Greg, Steve and Tim were 6, 8 and 10, respectively, at the time. She passed five months later on October 17 at the age of 37. “My family was great and helped the boys get back up on their feet,” said O’Donnell. “Now they’re three young nice boys.” Liggins had actually made it through chemotherapy. “Our other sister, Carol McCracken, had been Barb’s bone marrow donor, and complications from that transplant is what had actually killed her. She had a hemorrhage in her brain.” explained O’Donnell. “We were hoping she would make it.” Liggins was divorced at the time of her diagnosis, making her death even more painful for her sons. “I can’t imagine being in their position. I just cannot imagine losing a mom at such a young age. After her death, the boys became a lot closer with their dad and were reunited. Thankfully some good did come out of the ordeal,” said O’Donnell. Children with Hair Loss was the best choice because it is “specifically for children, free for those receiving the hair, and it’s local,” O’Donnell explained. Surprisingly, she did not feel any sad emotions while having her hair cut on October 15 at Supercuts in Rockford. “During the holidays we think of Barb, so it is sad. But it’s exciting to remember my sister in such a unique way and celebrate her life instead of being sad,” said O’Donnell. “Two of my sisters had cancer and they both said the worst thing about it was losing their hair. Especially for women and children, it’s an ugly reminder on a day-to-day basis that they are living with cancer,” said O’Donnell. “I encourage others to donate hair if they can stand growing it that long. It doesn’t take a lot to do and it brings joy to those who are not able […]

Volunteers Key to Success of REF Phone-a-Thon

March 12, 2009 // 0 Comments

The last week of February, the Rockford High School Media Center housed 125 dedicated volunteers over a three-day period. These volunteers called every parent in the Rockford School District to ask for a donation to the Rockford Education Foundation. Their efforts resulted in over $22,500 in pledges to the foundation, which, in turn, gives over $60,000 per year to the community in the form of grants for educational purposes. “I think all of us at REF were concerned about meeting our goals this year, in light of the economy,”said Phone-a-Thon co-chair Gail Vanderlaan, “It was very gratifying to again receive so much financial support from the Rockford Community.” With fifteen Phone-a-Thons behind them, REF trustees have it down to a science. Approximately 25 parent, grandparent, RPS staff, or community volunteers come in for a two-hour shift. Vanderlaan trains the callers and puts about 18-20 of them to work on a bank of phones. Sue Arends, REF trustee, who was instrumental in developing the annual Phone-a-Thon in 1994, takes the rest of the volunteers, who stuff envelopes and prepare the mailing. “It’s quite a production,” says REF administrator Sue Arend. “Our pledges are down from last year, but that’s to be expected in times like these. We are just so grateful to those who pledged and to those who volunteered their time. It will be a big help as we prepare to face the budget cuts ahead!” Meadow Ridge Elementary School parent Beth O’Donnell not only organized 20 volunteers from her school, but she also worked two shifts herself. When asked if she enjoys working the Phone-a-Thon, Beth said, “I do enjoy doing what I can to help out REF and help out our schools. Although it was very humbling this year, as we heard many say they weren’t able to give due to financial hardship or loss of jobs, it was awesome and also humbling to have those who could give this year, do. Everyone did what they could, whether it was $10 or $100 and it was great to be a part of that!” REF trustee Theresa Webb co-chairs the event with Vanderlaan. “Now, more than ever, the need for REF grants are crucial. Thank you to our Rockford parents, for coming through once […]