How wonderful to live in our contemporary world brimming with technological and cultural conveniences like cell phones, computers, online shopping for anything from furniture, to clothes, to daily grocery necessities. We can work from home in the comfort of our pajamas and not see a soul all day. Or we drive home from work, close our automatic garage doors behind us, and never have to see a neighbor.
Social norms for the nuclear family have shifted, and more people live alone now than ever in history. It’s not difficult to see why loneliness is more prevalent in today’s society than it has been in previous generations. Modern life is certainly conducive to isolation. We nonetheless evolved to be social beings, with meaningful human relations being as much of a need for our wellbeing as food and water.
Fortunately for us, living in Peachtree Corners with its active residents, well-maintained public spaces, infrastructure, beautiful residential areas and relatively mild weather, provides plenty of opportunities to combat the sedentary and solitary trends of today’s daily grind. Several social groups meet in our city, from those with interests in gardening to knitting to board games. I decided to investigate some active local groups and learned that for both leaders and members alike, the value of these alliances favoring connections and mutual support extends far beyond the exercise.
Loneliness is actually bad for you
Being lonely can cause health problems, shortening your lifespan. It’s not just a platitude when you hear people speaking about the importance of being healthy in mind and body.
“…[S]ocial isolation… [is] a predictor of mortality on par with smoking, obesity, elevated blood pressure, and high cholesterol… [H]ealth care providers assess[ing] isolation in their regular patient examinations, has clear potential to save, or extend, lives.” (Eric Klinenberg, PhD, American Journal of Public Health: Am J Public Health. 2016 May; 106(5): 786–787).
We’ve long been aware of the physical benefits of exercise. Yet have you ever considered that the friendships formed in exercise groups are just as important to your overall health as the exercise itself?
Fitness is not just physical
If joining a group for comradery and exercise seems intimidating, a group of two will do! A partner to keep you accountable and to be your confidant can provide the same benefits for your health.
Weare Gratwick, Senior Vice President of Tandem Bank, also serves as mayor pro tem on the city council for Peachtree Corners. He likens his exercise regime three to four times a week with longtime friend, Dr. Gene Witkin, to mental health therapy.
“We started running together in 1992. As we got older, running got a little more painful, so we switched to riding bikes. We have several routes throughout Peachtree Corners. It’s as much for physical exercise as it is for mental health. … We’ve had many deep conversations on these rides: everything from business decisions that we’ve both faced, to personal things going on in our lives. It’s been something that I’ve always enjoyed and a big part of both of our lives for many years. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue that. At some point I guess we’ll get too old to bike and then perhaps we’ll walk. We’ll see. Ha! Ha!”
If you live in Peachtree Corners, people walking, jogging, or cycling for fitness is not an unfamiliar sight.
“It really is great that we’ve got a community where there are so many people who are able to participate in exercise activities. They’re out and about. The city, I know, is working very hard to extend both sidewalks as well as our multi-use trails throughout the city. As we continue to expand those that’s going to provide more opportunities for people to walk, jog and ride bikes,” said Councilman Gratwick.
If you’re looking for trail ideas, scooters and bicycles are allowed on Technology Park’s Curiosity Lab, the test track for autonomous vehicles.
“That’s really the genesis of the multi-use trails because we’ve widened sidewalks to 12 feet throughout Tech Park… I know we’re working to connect to a couple of lakes back there. … You can canoe or kayak on the lakes. Our multi-use trail will… continue the loop around the city… It’s high on our priority list.”
You can find Gratwick and Witkin riding their bikes in Simpsonwood Park, which is also a great place to run and walk. They enjoy riding through neighborhoods like North Manor and Amberfield as well.
PC3 (Peachtree Corners Cycling Club)
Randy Bailey, a software sales executive and resident of Peachtree Corners since 1986, well before its incorporation as a city, heads up PC3, a diverse group of road biking enthusiasts who have been riding on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and on Tuesday and Thursday evenings since the early 1990s. He took his love for spin class, which he taught for several years, out on the road.
Andrew Hebert helps him orchestrate the club. You can find them riding with anywhere from five to 25 people. On busy days there can be 50 to 60 riders.
The group is comprised of cyclists in their teens to those in their 70s, from a multitude of backgrounds, representing an array of professions: long-haul truckers, people in technology, teachers and doctors. It’s anchored in Peachtree Corners, but they draw members from Roswell, Dunwoody and Johns Creek. “It’s a great, central location where people can get together and ride.”
“There are tons of athletes in the group, people who do other kinds of riding, like mountain bike riding and gravel biking. We’re primarily a road biking group but we support all those other disciplines. It’s a pretty broad sport. There are some who are triathletes so they’re runners too. I’ll have people come back from a ride, put their bikes in the car and then go for a run,” explained Bailey.
Gulp… If like me, you hear that and feel leery about joining a group of hard-core athletes, PC3 is welcoming to all levels. They have some beginners, people who just came out of spin class and want to try it on the road, people who are apprehensive about it. Some, like Bailey, become cyclists because it’s more forgiving on the joints than running and impact sports.
They all coexist harmoniously, even with members on the other extreme, who are nationally recognized racers joining PC3 on their “rest days.”
“There’s quite a bit more to it than just the exercise. That’s important and it’s definitely worthwhile, but it is a lot broader than that.” Bailey conveyed the important social factor of the group. They participate in several activities outside of their shared passion for riding. Stories of great weight loss, support for members having arrived from different countries and personal growth have all come out of this band of cyclists.
It’s amazing how easy it becomes
Member Jenny Johnson shared “PC3 has been one of the biggest reasons I was able to recover so strongly from my knee replacement and the three surgeries following. … I had to start from ground zero in building strength and confidence on the bike. … PC3 was patient enough to allow me to ride, even when I was so slow and in pain those first few months … after surgery. I’ve logged over 1,600 miles on the bike since my knee replacement and all but about 100 miles of those were with PC3.
When I met with PC3 before a Saturday morning ride, member Dena Gaddie told me she was the kid no one wanted on their team because she was not in good shape. She got into cycling as an adult and has gone from being “in the absolute worst physical shape” to being “just one of the pack—good enough to hang with the group. I’m steadily improving. Now I can do 100-mile bike rides. … It’s done a world of good for my well-being, my self-esteem, my social life and my overall outlook on life.”
The importance of sharing the road
It’s sometimes a little scary to get out on the road—even in a car. Bailey said, “I can assure you we don’t want to have accidents because the car always wins. To ride with a group is a way to make it safer. It’s absolutely a way to make it more fun.”
There seems to be a little hostility on behalf of some drivers who think cyclists should ride on the sidewalk. However, bike riding on the sidewalk is actually illegal; in most cases, bikes are to be treated as motorcycles on the road.
Sadly, on September 21, 2019, member Mike Rachelson was struck and killed with 63 miles remaining in an epic adventure—he was an avid cyclist on his second to last day of a 2600+ mile journey from Canada to Mexico along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. PC3 will be riding in his memory on May 2, 2020, hoping to create awareness for motorists to drive safely with bikers on the road.
Bailey was lucky to survive being struck by a pick-up truck in 2015, on a ride back from Lake Lanier. He does everything he can to promote improving relations with motorists.
Bikers make themselves as visible as possible, “We light ourselves up like Christmas trees,” he chuckled. His club respects the rules of the road, just as cars should. His message to drivers is simple: “We are not the enemy. We are your friends and neighbors. My goal is not to slow you down…”
I inquired about the proper way to pass a cyclist and learned to allow for a minimum of three feet of distance between the car and the biker for safe passing. And when you see a large group of them riding in single file, know that is the safest way for them to ride. They are also allowed to ride two-abreast on the roadways.
For more information about PC3 visit pc3cycling.com.
The Renegade Runners
This is a troop of about 40 individuals who range in age from their late 30s to age 60. Primarily female, about 80%, some are stay at home moms and several are professionals: doctors, business executives, teachers, real estate agents.
A Waffle House executive by day, John Fervier spearheads the running group he joined 15 years ago when it was still known as Gwinnett Galloway. Galloway had gotten too regimented—it’s a very formal run/walk process—so they disbanded and formed The Renegade Runners. Their apropos motto is “Do whatever the hell you want.”
They still employ the Galloway method of repeated running and walking intervals. For example, they’ll run for five minutes and walk for one. At its inception, it was primarily a marathon training group. Now it’s primarily a social group of people who like to run an array of races.
“We wanted more freedom with our training programs,” explained Fervier. They meet on Saturday mornings at the Ingles parking lot; 7 a.m. in the summer and 7:30 a.m. in the winter.
There are different subgroups based on pace.
- The Slackers: 2:1 (They run for two minutes and walk for one.)
- The Renegades: 5:1
- Lazy Sux: 7:1. They’re the fastest and they participate in a lot of races.
Some are not training for anything. Some have run over 50 marathons, one in each state. Others are striving to accomplish that goal.
“There is nothing strict about us. We’re a social group that likes to run, or a running group with a drinking problem. We’ve been known to have some mimosas after a run,” Fervier said.
Minimal gear is required to be a runner. For the proper shoes, Fervier recommends going to Fleet Feet, Big Peach or the new Peachtree Corners store, Road Runner Sports.
“It’s imperative to go to a running store to be fitted with the proper shoes. Shoe selection is based on your running style, body type, weight and the way your foot strikes the ground. Shoes are the most important piece of equipment. They should be replaced every 300 to 400 miles. My shoes will last me half a year. You’re probably going to spend $80 to $140 on a good pair of shoes.”
Fervier also suggests Body Glide, a substance you use on parts of your body that might chafe, to help keep you from blistering. It looks like a deodorant.
Running in Peachtree Corners
Fervier and his group can be seen running on the streets and sidewalks in neighborhoods like Amberfield. In the summer, they may run along the shaded path by the river in Roswell.
They’ve developed 50 different routes over the years, running primarily around Peachtree Corners. They’ll also dart to downtown Norcross and back or up to North Berkley Lake.
A member since 2006, Donna Esau shared how they’ve named and memorized all the routes since they’ve jogged them so often. There’s the “Old Lisa,” “The Infinity,” “The Donut,” and “Three Friends,” to name a few.
Fervier sends an email every weekend containing route, start time and weather information. Routes may differ depending upon which races they’re training for.
“There are great areas for running around here with little traffic. We have hills instead of just straightaways, which helps a lot with training. It’s pretty much a perfect place. And there are great restaurants to go to for breakfast afterwards,” Fervier said.
“You have people who have been running together for more than 10 years. I might be out there for 4 to 5 hours at a time training, so you get to know these people very, very well. You become good friends. When you’re running with somebody for so long, you call him your running husband,” said Esau.
“We’ve all become really close friends. We’ve traveled across the country together running races. We’ve traveled to California, to Hawaii. We have Christmas parties, we celebrate together, and we support each other when we’re going through difficult times,” Fervier explained.
“Typically, our Saturday runs last one to two hours,” he continued. “When you spend five to six hours running with people—training for marathons, we run 20 miles or more—or several hours on the road heading to different marathons, you learn a lot about them.”
Fervier knows of some relationships that sprang from the group. He also described how members can count on one another when dealing with illnesses or during difficult times at home. “You learn a lot about their personal lives and what they go through. When I’ve had my own illnesses, I’ve leaned on my friends in the running group to help me through it,” he said.
To show their support when a member is preparing for longer marathons, some people in the group will run the first 10 miles with him or her, then another set of people will go along for support on the next 10.
“We like people that get along with other people. Those are the people who stay with our group and enjoy it. No drama, no fighting,” said Fervier.
Running is a stress buster
Referring to marathons, during which one person may run for three to six and a half hours, Fervier considers running a great, stress-relieving exercise, “almost like going on a long drive in your car. You remember the beginning and the end of the drive; in the middle you zone out.”
I gasped at the thought of running for 26+ miles, to which Fervier responded, “You get used to it; you’d be amazed. When I first started, I would run one mile and that’s it. Your body gets so accustomed to it. It doesn’t affect you anymore.”
Esau described the annual Half Marathon put on by member Rebecca McLaughlin and her husband. “They organize a Thanksgiving Half Marathon every year. They provide refreshments, they cheer people on, they drive the course to make sure people are safe. It doesn’t cost you anything. Unless you want a medal. She’ll order one for you. There is nothing competitive about this group! She also puts on a Christmas run.”
Runners can bring their children, and it’s a fun, relaxing way to burn off some calories from the fabulous feasts.
BGR (Black Girls Run)
I met with Director of Research/Electrical Engineer and BGR lead Prudence Franklin, who explained that there are BGR groups across the country trying to encourage women of all fitness levels to get out and become more active.
While there were BGR groups in Atlanta, there wasn’t one in Peachtree Corners, so Franklin decided to get a team of women together of varying sizes, shapes and capabilities. She posted an ad on the Nextdoor website and women from all over Peachtree Corners, Berkley Lake and Johns Creek answered the call.
BGR meets three days a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Mondays and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. in the summer and 7 p.m. in the winter. Saturdays at 7 a.m. “We try to get out there and do our thing,” said Franklin.
Since August of this year, 30 women inquired about BGR. Initially, 12-14 came out to participate. Now there are about four or five regulars. “We meet at the Dunkin Donuts in the Ingles Plaza,” Franklin said.
Their ages range from late 20s to 70s and all levels are welcome: some are runners, some prefer to walk and others run/walk. Despite the group’s name, Franklin stressed that women of all ethnicities are welcome to join them. Just as Peachtree Corners is diverse, so too is their BGR group.
While the origin of the movement was meant to help improve the health of African American women who statistically have had higher rates of hypertension, diabetes and heart disease, it’s not exclusively for black women. It’s about empowering all women to be healthy. “We want all women out there running and being health-conscious,” said Franklin.
At your own pace—in company
I joined the ladies one evening on a run to Simpsonwood Elementary and back to Ingles. Initially, I feared my speed would not be up to par. I met members Corinda Billington and Tavia Anderson that night. Billington is 70 and in much better shape than I am. She also plays tennis on two different teams. She links up with BGR often and said she enjoys the workout and company since having lost her husband.
It was a relief when Franklin explained, “The whole point of BGR is so women would not be intimidated. The walkers walk with each other, the runners run together and we have the motto: No woman left behind.”
In the end, the runners get back first and they wait for the walkers. Everyone waits until the last people come in. I can attest to this, as on the night I joined them, Franklin could clearly run circles around the rest of us, but she gracefully fell back, doubled-back, checked on us and brought us headlamps for running at night, likely going three or four times the intended distance.
“It’s a running club but we have walkers, run/walkers and runners. We wait for and celebrate everyone upon their return,” said Franklin.
When I thanked her for her efforts and for the great things she’s doing in our city, Franklin replied, “This is Peachtree Corners, we have to keep it vibrant, alive and a good place to live.” Indeed.
Stay tuned for our December podcast on Exercise Groups in Peachtree Corners!
Local Indie Author Day is Coming Back to Gwinnett County Public Library Branches
Gwinnett County Public Library looks forward to celebrating Local Indie Author Day on Saturday, November 4, 2023.
The library invites independent local authors to showcase their works with author talks, readings, book sales and signings each year. This event aims to unite libraries, indie authors and readers throughout our community.
Multiple library branches are hosting author talks or author panels. Participating branches include:
- Buford-Sugar Hill,
- Five Forks,
- Norcross and
Local Indie Author Day will begin at the Duluth Library branch at 2:30 p.m. and features authors Stella Beaver, Chere’ Coen, Tamara Anderson and Cassandra Kempe-Ho.
The Norcross Library branch will host its showcase at 3:30 p.m. with authors Linda Sands and M.W. McKinley.
Check the library’s event calendar for author information and times. All events are free and open to the public. For questions or comments, contact Duﬃe Dixon, Director of Marketing and Communications for Gwinnett County Public Library at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to explore more public library events happening in November.
Good Grief: Life After Loss, Part 3
Losing Our Furry Friends
The conclusion of my “Good Grief” series seemed ideal in this issue featuring pets and their people. Paris Hilton lost her beloved chihuahua this year. In a farewell tribute on Instagram, the socialite wrote, “In 23 amazing years, she brought endless love, loyalty, and unforgettable moments to my life.”
Some may not understand — eye rolls may ensue — but fellow pet people know all too well that losing a companion animal is just as heartbreaking as losing a human loved one.
“The pain I feel right now is indescribable,” Hilton posted.
Yet our cultural playbook is devoid of any protocols for those mourning pets. There are no pet obituaries, no official rituals or religious ceremonies to support us through the loss of a fur baby. When such perfectly normal and deep emotions can be considered a mere overreaction by some people in our own tribe, one could argue that losing a pet is even more difficult.
The ultimate interspecies bond
Though domestic companions can be scale or feather-covered too, I spoke to the bereaved owners of the furry variety.
Thousands of years of evolution have led to dogs morphing from the wild wolves they once were into man’s best friend, able to read our emotions and willing to sit, bark, roll over and play dead on command – all to please us. If you’re not a pet owner yourself, you’re sure to have friends with pets.
Max, tennis ball chaser extraordinaire
Long before Matt and Faith Harding had children, they had their dogs, Jazzy and Max, who were part of their lives for over 11 years. Losing them was hard.
“We lost Max and Jazzy within a year of each other. We had to put Jazzy down because she was older and suffering. It was the right thing to do. What made it more difficult with Max was that it was so unexpected,” Matt said.
The Hardings had been treating Max, who suffered from seizures common to Belgian Malinois. They were able to keep the seizures under control for years.
What makes a grown man cry
It was a week like any other. Faith had gone out of town. The kids and Max were left in Matt’s care. Max chased tennis balls in the backyard. There were no warning signs that something was about to go terribly wrong.
Matt found Max in his kennel when he came home one evening. It looked as though he’d had a seizure — like those he’d recovered from many times before. Matt rinsed him off and brought him back inside.
When Matt came downstairs after putting his daughter down for a nap, Max drew his last couple of breaths and passed away. “He waited for me to come back,” Matt said.
Having to call Faith to share the sad news while she was traveling was heartbreaking. “After the initial shock and plenty of tears, you’re stuck with trying to figure out what to do next,” Matt said.
With their baby on one arm and their wailing toddler holding his hand, Matt walked the kids over to the neighbors’ house. The only thing he could utter was, “Please watch them.” Seeing his tear-streaked face, his neighbor took the children without hesitation.
“I had to text her and let her know what was happening. I could not even get words out of my mouth. They were a huge help and very sympathetic to what was happening,” Matt shared.
Maximize the memories
What helped the Hardings most was looking at pictures and reminiscing about their “incredible dog,” Max.
“He loved people. Plenty of people reached out to tell me some of their favorite memories with him and I couldn’t help but smile and laugh at how he left an impression on so many,” Matt said.
Conversely, Matt viewed the act of putting away the dog beds, bowls and toys as an admission that Max was now just a memory. “I couldn’t bring myself to do it,” Matt confided.
“The loss of Max is still hard to think about. Faith and I budget. We have a line item for Max. We were doing the budget a couple of nights ago and couldn’t bring ourselves to remove him as a line item,” Matt said. “Thank you for letting me share our story.”
Before Sandra Hutto and her siblings could spread their parents’ ashes, she was faced with the sudden death of her 11-year-old Doberman, Rio.
Three losses in rapid succession were a hard knock-back for Hutto. She is grateful for supportive friends and being able to process her grief with the help of her husband Mark, a psychiatrist.
According to Hutto, sharing stories about her parents was as helpful in dealing with her loss as it was funny. “There were things I didn’t know. It was fascinating,” she said. “Family stories are important. Apparently, my mother was kind of a floozy,” she laughed.
Her aunt had shared about her mother misleading a boy to spend a day at the lake. When he asked her out, she claimed to have gotten a headache from all the sun. But later, she called another boy about going to a movie.
Hutto advised, “You have shared stories and individual stories. You can let that isolate you or bring you closer. You could say, “That wasn’t my experience, I’m shutting it out,” but it lets you know more about your parents. They have stories from before you were born.”
Dad and the Doberman Pinscher
Before her father’s passing, Hutto and her husband took her dad on a road trip to Wyoming, along with Rio, in their 1993 Bluebird Wanderlodge to visit her sister. Unsure how her father would take to such a big dog, she was pleased when they bonded.
“He fell in love with her. Rio would get up in the middle of the night to lay down next to him. I joked with dad, “You know daddy, we do keep the dog.””
After he died, people said, “That trip was great for him. He never stopped talking about how much fun he had.” That was heartwarming,” Hutto said.
She danced on the sand
An American Kennel Club purebred dog, Rio’s registered name is, She Dances on the Sand, after the Duran Duran song.
Bred in Germany to be the intimidating protectors of tax collectors, Dobermans are strong, intelligent dogs, able to attack on command. Rio didn’t exactly fit the bill. Terrified of a neighborhood Yorkie, she’d watch him as she cowered behind Hutto.
Her tail was docked but she had natural, floppy ears. She wasn’t steely-looking, but she did have a big bark. “Mostly she would try to convince people that she was neglected. She was a drama queen; such a good, funny dog,” Hutto said.
Rio passed almost exactly the same way their previous Doberman, Jet had. (Jet was named after the Paul McCartney and Wings song.) Though Rio had a longer life, Hutto expressed the common sentiment among pet-owners: it’s never long enough.
Rio had received a clean bill of health and a rabies shot that day. By the evening, she was restless and wouldn’t settle in her bed. Mark had gone out.
“She got up and started walking around. She walked into our dining room, went around the table, her back feet collapsed from under her. She struggled to get up. She howled a couple of times and she was gone,” Hutto said.
Hutto believes cardiac arrhythmia killed both Jet and Rio. Heart issues are common in Dobermans, partly because of breeding and because they’re deep-chested dogs.
“Not again!” Hutto remembers shrieking as she witnessed Rio’s passing. Jet had passed away in the same manner, but she was with Mark. The swift but horrible departure allows for the only consolation, “at least she didn’t suffer.”
A Dobie’s departure
After the ordeal of burying 70-pound Jet in the rain, the Huttos decided to have Rio cremated. They were pleased with Deceased Pet Care, Inc. in Chamblee.
“They were kind, empathetic and respectful. They knew we were in pain. They took good care of her, made a point to tell us that they cremate each dog individually, and gave us her paw print in clay,” Hutto recounted.
“Peachtree Forest is the neighborhood to live in if you want to come back as a dog. People here love their dogs. They’ll greet your dog — and then they’ll say hi to you,” Hutto chuckled. When neighbors learned about Rio’s passing, some sent sympathy cards.
Hutto was almost thankful for a sprained knee shielding her for a while from the inevitable moment she takes her first walk alone and people will ask, “Where’s Rio?”
“I’ll probably bawl in the street,” she predicted.
Able to better prepare for losing her parents, Hutto remarked that her grief journey is different for Rio because it was so sudden. “It was a shock and harder in some ways. It’s important to talk about it so people see you can get through it,” she said.
When they’re ready, the Huttos plan to get another Doberman. “I’m going to name her Roxanne. You’re not going to be able to help yourself when you call her. You’re going to have to do the song,” she said.
Paw prints on our hearts
Pets are not “just animals,” as some may be tempted to say when we lose them. For those who form strong bonds with our four-legged friends, they become part of our favorite routines, our protégés, our sweetest companions, delighting us daily with joy and unconditional affection; they become family.
If the emotional connections we can form with pets are virtually indistinguishable from those we form with people, it stands to reason that pet bereavement can be on par with the grief we experience for our cherished, human loved ones. Let’s remember to be kind to those grieving the loss of their pets.
Teen Cancer Survivor Aims to Raise Funds for Research
When Lex Stolle was 10 years old, he started behaving in ways that weren’t like the energetic pre-teen.
“There were a lot of things that just weren’t right, like I wasn’t eating well. I was losing a lot of weight; I had fluid in my lungs. There were just so many problems that ultimately did lead to my diagnosis,” he said referring to high risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALS.
The medical team initially told Stolle’s family that there would be three and a half years of intense chemotherapy. At that time, they didn’t have a complete diagnosis.
“Additionally, I would have 10 months of going in every week, taking lots of shots and pills,” he said. “And then if I ever had a fever, I would have to stay in the hospital for days, weeks or even months.”
However, updated research allowed Stolle to have a year cut off his chemotherapy.
“In total, I took over 2,000 chemotherapy pills. I had about 36 spinal taps, which is where they stick a needle in my spine to send chemo to my brain. …I spent over 50 nights in the hospital. I missed 163 days of school and my fifth-grade year,” he lamented — but doesn’t feel sorry for himself.
Ask him how he’s doing now.
“I’m awesome! I finished treatment in January of 2022. I’m a year and a half out of treatment and I’m feeling a lot better. I still go in every few months, and then I’ll have to go in every year for, I think, the rest of my life,” he said. “And I’ve started to get back into the shape that I was in — but it’s still hard to be a teenager.”
Paying the blessings forward
Stolle’s cancer journey began in 2019. Now at 14 years old, he wants to do what he can to keep the deadly disease from other kids.
“I have always had a passion for helping others, and especially with my cancer, I know what it’s like to be put through everything I went through. I don’t want any kid to have to suffer, let alone someone younger,” he said. “So I decided to do this project last year just for Peachtree Corners.”
He’s talking about his brainchild, Cancer Cards.
“Seeing so many kids go through what I did really got to me, and I felt the urge to make a difference. That’s how the idea for Cancer Cards came about. …They’re about the size of a credit card and they hold special discounts (between 15% off meals to free appetizers) for 9 to 12 local businesses.”
This year, he’s gone beyond Peachtree Corners to include cards exclusive to Milton/Alpharetta, Marietta, Buckhead and Athens. The cards are $25 each and the money raised goes to the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta — the same place where Stolle received his treatment.
“We are so proud and honored to have Lex Stolle’s support of the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta,” said Lydia Stinson of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation. “After three long years of undergoing chemotherapy treatment, Lex was inspired to give back to help kids like him, and he has been determined to give back to Children’s in so many ways.”
The lengths that Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta went to keep his spirits up — therapy dogs, clowns, etc. — made many of his worse days some of his best, Stolle said.
“I raised around $500 last year, but this year, I’m hoping to raise a little over $90,000,” he added.
Stolle hopes the funds can help wipe out childhood cancers. “I want one day for my grandkids to not even have to think about getting cancer, or if they do get cancer, that it can be a very easy treatment,” he said.
Cancer cards are on sale now and are active through May 25, 2024. They can be purchased online at cancercard.net.
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