Archive for Thursday, July 1, 2004

Bits and Pieces

Hannas touched lives of little ones, teens

July 1, 2004

It's time to say "goodbye" to another family who has become an icon in our community.
The departure of Joe and Barbara Hanna, both teachers in their own right, from Eudora will leave a large vacuum in the fabric of our town, and many will miss them.
In the summer of 1971 when my family arrived in Eudora, Joe Hanna was one of the first to welcome us. Joe would be coaching that fall with Don Laws, who had also been hired to coach football.
Joe was the kind of person you liked immediately. Open and friendly, he usually saw only the positive side of whatever he and Don might be pondering both on and off the football field. I remember once overhearing their conversation and one of them saying, "Yeah, we're little, but we're slow" referring to their team, and I remember their laughter that we were to hear often in the years that followed.
Joe's positive outlook and sense of humor through those years was always present, whether the football record was good or not-so-good.
My children had Joe as a teacher, and they often brought home tales of Mr. Hanna. In his early years of teaching, Joe was not much older than his students and not above a bit of mischief. He was a good teacher who prodded his students to achieve, but he was also the one who started the water fights the last week of school when chaos often reigned. I remember my son telling me how the water guns were soon not big enough to accomplish a proper dousing, so one particularly warm day Joe ran after him with a garden hose. Remember that, Joe?
Mr. Hanna was also the brunt of various practical jokes played on him by his students, and he good-naturedly accepted the "give and take" of such a relationship.
While my sons have particularly fond memories of Joe from the football field, my girls also respected him as teacher and coach and felt honored by his friendship. Both of them worked several years with him at the Eudora pool, and they also recall many "Hanna" stories. When their father was terminally ill, Joe was a faithful friend and he was on hand to carry Don to his final resting place.
Barbara also made her mark in Eudora on the lives of countless children who came to her for daycare during the 35 years the Hannas spent here in Eudora. I noted a picture of her with her present brood in last week's Eudora News and once again marveled at her ability to care for so many while continuing her work as an author and a publisher of her own work.
Now she will be able to share that untiring energy with her granddaughter, Sophie, who will be near them in their new home in Shallowater, Texas.
A quote from the interview with Joe in The Eudora News in the June 17 issue quoted him as saying, "It's the lasting relationships. You get real close to the players and when you see them years later they still know who you are." Indeed they do and they will remember, as will all of those here in Eudora who have benefited from the dedication and commitment that both Joe and Barbara have brought to our school, our children and our community.
A line from the movie the "Sound of Music" seems appropriate, "So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersen, goodbye." And God bless you both, Joe and Barbara, and Sophie as well.
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Children have been in the news lately. A few weeks ago I read an article about a 7-year-old boy, Jacob Mozer, a cancer survivor who collected donations for cancer at his lemonade stand at a Blue Springs' grocery store. At the end of the day, he had collected $4,735.
The originator of such a simple idea to raise funds for cancer was Alexandra Scott of Wynnewood, Pa., just 8 years old, who in spite of treatment since her first birthday is still battling cancer.
Recovering from a difficult treatment where she could hardly speak she said, "When I get out of the hospital, I want to have a lemonade stand." Her parents thought "how cute," but her idea caught on and this year children at 1,000 lemonade stands all over the country took in gifts of $10, $20 and even $500.
Among their number was young Jacob at a grocery store near U.S. Highway 40 in Kansas City. Jacob raised more than $4,000 and as of this printing, Alexandra has raised more than $200,000.
This past Saturday a group of volunteers from Eudora attended the first 5K run/walk to benefit victims of mitochondrial disease, a little-known disease that most often strikes children. There was a good deal of positive energy at this event as well as large numbers of people who showed up to run or walk in support of their favorite child. Eudora's favorite was Christian Long, who it is believed suffers from this disease and who was featured with his brothers on the front page of The Eudora News last week to preview the run/walk event.
Christian is 4, and while he is incapacitated in some ways, it is difficult to think of Christian as a victim. He communicates in many ways and often with a smile that not only signals recognition but also mischief.
My fondest memory of the event is of Christian in his wheelchair with Catherine Grosdidier by his side. Catherine, Christian's best friend, is not much bigger than Christian, and she has a long, ponytail that Christian often reached over and ran his fingers through.
Once again, I am struck by the power that so often the powerless and the most vulnerable among us wield over the strong and healthy. So often they bring out the very best in us, as witnessed by the donations given to two small cancer survivors and the willingness of many volunteers to show up and support Christian and his family. It calls to mind the quote, "and a little child shall lead them."

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