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In the Pipeline: Typical Kiwanis Club shows big heart

September 17, 2013|By Chris Epting
  • Cherise Sheffner in intensive care at Fountain Valley Hospital over Labor Day Weekend.
Cherise Sheffner in intensive care at Fountain Valley… (Renee Sheffner )

Two weeks ago in this column, I wrote about Cherise Sheffner, a local 16-year-old suffering from a rare and debilitating disease called dysautonomia, a dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system.

I explained how Cherise's mom, Renee, needed some financial assistance for an upcoming trip to the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis, where a team of specialists are set in October to begin analyzing what can be done for her daughter.

Responses from readers were swift and compassionate. People offered help and provided additional information about the disease and support groups. Then I received an email that read, in part:

"Hi Chris,

After seeing your news story about Cherise Sheffner, I felt the need to bring it to the Kiwanis board to see if we could donate or help in any way.

The board approved a $1,000 donation. We'd like to present the check to Cherise's mother, if possible, at our next meeting.

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This money came from Kiwanis' 'Angels Program.' This is a community outreach project where we reach out to help those in immediate need in our community.

Thank you,

Laura Romero"

I'm fortunate enough to have been a Kiwanis guest speaker at a number of luncheons over the years. The organization is an exceptionally important force in this community, faithfully dedicated to making a positive difference (like the Rotarians and a number of other civic-minded groups).

So in that respect, I really should not have been that surprised. But then again, there was something just so beautiful and thoughtful about this gesture that it gave me great pause. I was really hoping that Renee herself could attend the luncheon and, thankfully, she was able to join me there last Tuesday.

The meeting, as always, featured lots of good-natured banter, joking and discussion about various charitable projects the group has in the works (which is pretty much the case all year long, every year).

Then I was invited up to say a few words, and next Renee delivered a moving account of what Cherise is going through and how much the money will be appreciated. Many in the room dabbed at their eyes as she spoke, and then chapter president John Etheridge presented Renee with the check.

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