Let’s cheer on the Wreaths Across America truck!

30 Nov

Wreath Day is almost here!

As you’ve read here several times, Wreaths Across America is coming to Webster, joining the effort to place wreaths on the graves of every veteran in the country. On Dec. 17, Wreath Day, volunteers will gather at Webster Union Cemetery to help lay wreaths on the resting places of 650 veterans. (Keep reading to find out how you and your family can volunteer.)

But before we can place the wreaths, they have to be delivered, and THAT will be an exciting and awe-inspiring event.

Sometime in the next week or two, an 18-wheeler traveling from Maine (where the wreaths are created) will be arriving in Webster to deliver our 650 wreaths, driving through town and up to Webster Union Cemetery at the corner of Rt. 250 and Woodhull. The truck is part of the Wreaths Across America “Honor Fleet,” made up of hundreds of trucking companies who volunteer their drivers, equipment and time to deliver almost three million wreaths every year to every corner of the country.

We don’t know (yet) exactly when the 18-wheeler will be arriving, but when it does, we want to give it a HUGE Webster welcome. Of course we hope as many people as possible can get out on the roadways to cheer on the truck as it passes by. But also, with enough advance notice, the Webster PD will give the truck an all-sirens-blaring escort through town, and our Webster volunteer fire departments will hang a huge flag from their ladder trucks for the semi to drive under.

We don’t know how much lead time we’ll have to let everyone know when the truck will be arriving and what its route will be. But as soon as I find out, I’ll post something on this blog AND on my Webster on the Web Facebook page. Updates will also be posted on the Wreaths Across America Facebook page.

So keep an eye out for updates, and let’s get excited about welcoming the Wreaths Across America truck to Webster.


Wreath Day is Saturday Dec. 17, and the community is invited to help lay the 650 wreaths on veterans’ graves at Webster Union Cemetery. This would be a great way to honor our heroes and start a new family tradition. Click here to sign up.

To read more about Wreaths Across America at Webster Union Cemetery, visit the website here or Facebook page here.

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(posted 11/28/2022)

Bygone blog — Parental stupidity index

29 Nov

This is the latest in my on-again, off-again series of Bygone Blogs, in which I’m re-posting some of my favorite blogs from the last 14 years. This one was originally published on October 8, 2008.


Parental Stupidity Index

WARNING! Mathematics ahead!
(But stay with me, because you might find this interesting.)

My husband and I have a 14-year old. She thinks we’re stupid.

Now this phenomenon — which I’ll call “Perceived Parental Intelligence,” or PPI — is not unusual. Matter of fact, it’s so commonplace I’m surprised there hasn’t been any serious quantitative research on the subject. So of course, I’ve decided to give it a shot.

As I see it, the PPI phenomenon proceeds something like this: from birth to pre-teen, children think their parents are the smartest people in the world. At about 9 or 10 years old, that perception begins to sag. Then, at around 11 years old, the PPI takes a precipitous drop and continues to drop (i.e. parents continue to get stupider) until children’s mid to late-teen years.

It’s at this time, roughly coinciding with the college years, that Perceived Parental Intelligence begins a slow and steady crawl back up. Not surprisingly, the index takes an abrupt upswing in the late 20s, when children start having children of their own, and they wonder how on earth their parents managed to raise a family without going psycho.

For visual learners, below you’ll see how the PPI phenomenon looks when graphed.

Point A, a child’s early years, are when parents are percieved to be really smart and know everything.

Point B, when a child enters the pre-teen years, parents begin their quick descent into stupidity.

At Point C, when grandchildren are born, parents all of a sudden look like Einstein.

I’m curious to see if other families are seeing the same phenomenon. I also encourage replication of this study. I wonder, for example, if Point B — where the PPI begins to decline — is a constant.

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(posted 11/28/2022)

Webster’s Winter Wonderland comes to the Village Saturday Dec. 3

28 Nov

So, before you read any further … do you have your ugly sweater yet?

Perhaps you’ve heard about this new wrinkle in Webster’s Winter Wonderland.

In addition to all of the features everyone has come to love about this annual festival, including Santa, carolers, the bell choir, the festival wagon and the Parade of Lights, the organizers are encouraging everyone, including parade participants, to wear ugly sweaters.

You don’t even have to go out and buy one. Just take an old sweater and hang stuff on it (like I did in the photo). There will even be a photo booth set up on Main Street in front of Lala’s where you can get your photo taken with your creative attire. Next year, our little village is going to try to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest collection of ugly-sweater-wearers. So this Saturday will be good practice.

Now for the information you’ve all come for … what’s happening this Saturday at Webster’s Winter Wonderland (the festival formerly known as White Christmas)?

Well for starters, it’s going to be bigger and better than ever, expanding to the east end of the village, and featuring a brand new, around-the-world theme. You’ll find displays inside shops and along Main Street highlighting different winter holidays and cultures from around the world. Also on Main Street, plans are to have at least one food truck, a bounce house, carolers and carriage rides, cookie decorating, music, street games and more.

Like last year, the North Pole will be set up in Gazebo Park on North Ave. There’ll be hot cocoa, kettle corn, Santa’s Workshop where the kids can build a toy, Storytime with Jason, and a donation bin for Toys for Tots. Kids can even participate in a scavenger hunt and win a prize after they check off some of the activities. And of course Santa will be there, welcoming children at the gazebo.

And this year the festival will even extend to the lower level of the North 43 shops east of North Ave. (next to Village Bakery). Make sure to visit “The Land of Sweets” at Roc Dance and check out some other fun surprises at Curated and MBody. Everything begins at 2 p.m. in the Village of Webster.

I want to highlight two special events happening that afternoon. The first is a donation table set up in front of Village Hall where you can drop off hygiene items and non-perishable foods to benefit Webster Hope. Check out the poster below for a wish list of items.

Second, make sure to stop by the Webster Museum at 18 Lapham Park sometime between 2 and 6:30 p.m. to see all of the beautiful decorations, and to vote for your favorite little tree in the museum’s annual Festival of Trees. There will even be live music from 4 to 6 p.m. featuring the Saxophone Therapy Project and the Goodwin Family.

The Parade of Lights begins at 6:30 p.m., heading west down Main Street to Fireman’s Field, and right after that, everyone can head back down to Gazebo Park for carol singing and Christmas tree(s) lighting!

You can find more information at the Webster BID website. If any more fun things are added to the schedule, I’ll post them here, too, so stay tuned.

Click here to see my photo gallery from last year’s White Christmas.

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(posted 11/28/2022)

Remembering Lee Burgess

27 Nov

I was surprised by some sad news the other day. I read in the Webster Herald that Lee Burgess has passed away.

Lee attended college at Miami University, where he was immediately drawn to the media, spending time as a sports announcer and writer. After graduation he spent his early career in advertising, but eventually found his true passion: teaching. For 30 years he taught multimedia and journalism at R.L. Thomas High School.

But many Webster residents know Lee Burgess best through his work with the Webster Herald, which he started writing for in 1969.

I didn’t know Lee very well. However, I did meet him for coffee at the Atlantic Restaurant one morning years ago. We chatted about the projects he was working on, the class he was teaching at the Webster Recreation Center, and journalism in general. Many times in the following years I told myself I’d try to reconnect with him and continue that conversation. But I never got around to doing that. So on the occasion of his passing, I decided to get to know Lee Burgess a little better. I realized a good way to do that was to examine his long career with the Herald, using the terrific NY Historic Newspapers database as my guide.

Lee’s name started appearing in the Webster Herald back in 1967, even before he began writing for the paper. At the time, he was yearbook advisor for the R.L. Thomas Reveille, and his name would pop up regularly in the “Thomas Tales” column written by Marsha Kuhn and Cheryl Koopmans. In September 1968 he was introduced as the school’s new journalism teacher and advisor to the Courier, the school’s brand new newspaper.

Lee’s first bylined article seems to be one published on May 21, 1969 about the Monroe County Harvest Queen Contest (pictured below). That summer he also started to help out behind the scenes at the Herald. In his regular “Ridge Runner” column, Webster Herald editor Curt Gerling called Lee “our summer ‘swing man,’ a fellow who fills in on the editorial side for vacationing members of the regular staff.” Gerling also talked Lee into covering school board meetings.

For the next several years, Lee would occasionally write about other topics as well, including politics, new businesses, even auto accidents. But when he added sports stories to his beat, he really found his niche.

In September 1976, Lee Burgess became a regular Webster Herald columnist. His “Sports Shorts” column was a pithy, informational, opinionated look at local and national sports. But it was when he took over the weekly “Ridge Runner” column from Gerling on Feb. 1, 1989, that Lee Burgess really hit his stride. He would write that column for the next six years.

In his first column (pictured below), Lee wrote,

And what’ll the column be? A lot of opinion, the kind of argument that folks loading up on groceries at Nesbitt’s or Seitz’s in Webster or at Linken Ridge in Ontario Center can chew about. A few thought provokers that’ll make “tippling talk” at The Old Ridge Inn or Sodus Hotel. Humor to pass along while you’re waiting for ice cream at Friendly’s in Webster or Russet’s in Ontario. And some names now and then, perhaps neighbors along Eddy Ridge Road or Klem Road or kids from schools in Webster or Wayne or Williamson or Sodus.

Little bits and pieces that put the “home” and “town” into where you live.

“Ridge Runner” may very well be what Lee Burgess is best remembered for, and for good reason. He wrote the kind of small-town-weekly-newspaper column that celebrates the ordinary people, places and events that often go unnoticed but make up the fabric of a small town. Through his words, Lee Burgess brought our community together.

As his family wrote in his obituary, Lee Burgess was a “larger than life figure in Webster.” He will be missed.

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(posted 11/27/2022)

Webster community mailbag

27 Nov

Just in time for gift-giving, the Friends of the Webster Public Library will be holding their Winter Book Sale beginning Tuesday Nov. 29.

The Friends sold the event in their press release better than I could:

Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the holiday season wear you down! The Friends of the Webster Public Library have the perfect solution to your holiday stress. The Friends are holding a Winter Holiday Book Sale at the library. Gently used books, DVDs, CDs and puzzles for adults and children will be available for purchase.

The sale begins Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 9 a.m. and runs during regular library hours for the next several weeks . . . or until sold out! Children’s items are in limited supply so shop early for the best selection and help support the library! All monies raised will go to support library programs and initiatives.

Free Breakfast With Santa

The Lions Club will hold their annual Breakfast With Santa on Sunday Dec. 4 from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Webster Golf Club, 440 Salt Rd.

Breakfast will include pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, english muffins, juice and coffee. Raffles and gift certificates will also be available.

There’s no charge, but donations will be accepted (and encouraged) to benefit the Webster Community Chest and other Webster Lions Club charities.

St. Martin Evening With Santa

Here’s another opportunity to get a free photo with Santa, plus cookies and pizza (if you prefer that over breakfast).

St. Martin Lutheran Church on Bay Road will hold its annual “Evening with Santa” holiday event from 6 to 8 p.m. on Fri. Dec. 2, Have your family holiday picture taken in a professional photo setting at St. Martin with Webster’s own Professional Santa, the same Santa as seen in Webster’s White Christmas & famous Firemen’s Parade of Lights. Pictures will be available on the spot and they’re absolutely free. (No need to wait in long lines at the mall or pay for a photo.)

Santa will arrive by fire truck, and will be handing out candy canes to all of his visitors. Bring your own camera for selfies with the elves, watch the children tell Santa their most secret wishes, help the children decorate their own Christmas cookies and write a letter to Santa, and listen to Santa read “The Night Before Christmas.”

There will be lots of games for the children, free pizza, and later, hear Pastor Korey read the Christmas Story as written in the Gospel of Luke.

Families who attend are asked to bring a nonperishable food item for the church’s Food Cupboard, to help another family enjoy their holiday season just a bit more.

Christmas Cookie Sale

The Women’s Club of Webster will hold their 28th annual Christmas Cookie Sale on Saturday Dec. 10 in the Webster Public Library community room. The sale will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or until they’re sold out.

Proceeds from the sale will benefit the club’s scholarship funds and other Webster community programs. The Webster Public Library is located at 980 Ridge Rd., at the rear of Webster Plaza.

Webster’s Winter Wonderland Details

Well, you’re going to have to wait another day or two for these, but rest assured you’ll get the full line-up here shortly. But I do want to make sure you remember to 1) wear your ugly sweaters all day, 2) bring a nonperishable food item to drop off at Village Hall to benefit Webster Hope, and 3) stop by the Webster Museum to vote for your favorite decorated mini-Christmas tree.

More to come. Stay tuned!

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(posted 11/26/2022)

How to help feed our neighbors in need

25 Nov

During this Thanksgiving season, we need to all remember that not everyone in our community was able to sit down to a plentiful dinner on Thursday. Even here in Webster, many families simply do not have enough to eat, and children are going hungry.

Two local agencies are working hard to help out as much as they can, during the holidays AND all year ’round. Read on for some information about Webster HOPE and the Webster Community Chest and how you can help them help our community.

Webster HOPE

The mission of Webster HOPE is to serve the needs of residents in the 14580 zip code, providing food, clothing, household goods and furniture. Financial assistance, with the emphasis on preventing homelessness, is also available.

Webster HOPE is located at 1450 Ridge Rd., adjacent to Holy Trinity church. They gladly accept donations of nonperishable food, hygiene products, gently used clothing, and monetary donations. (You can even click here to donate through their PayPal site.)

They’d also love to have more volunteers to help stock the food pantry, work in the garden, organize the clothing closet or work with the clients. Email websternyhope@gmail.com to find out how you can help.

Here are a couple of other easy ways to help out in the next several days:

  • Tuesday Nov. 29 is ROC the Day. Webster HOPE is participating for the first time and hoping to raise $5,000 to cover food costs for a whole month. Log onto www.ROCtheDay.org to donate.
  • Shop with Amazon Smile. Designate Webster NY Hope as your charity of choice and every time you shop on Amazon a donation will be made.
  • Look for the Webster HOPE donation table set up in front of Village Hall on Saturday Dec. 3 during Webster’s Winter Wonderland. Click on the flyer below for a wish list of food and clothing items.

To read more about Webster HOPE, check out their website and Facebook page.

Webster Community Chest

For almost 75 years, the Webster Community Chest (WCC) has provided information and referrals, emergency financial assistance, food assistance, summer camp scholarships, high school senior awards for community service, and financial aid to organizations whose programs benefit Webster residents. Like Wester HOPE, the agency serves the 14580 zip code area.

This year alone, the Webster Community Chest provided

  • 878 meals to the elderly through Meals on Wheels
  • 475 meals to families
  • six high school scholarships
  • four vanloads of food to Webster HOPE
  • summer camperships
  • therapeutic services for disabled children

plus they helped 49 families avoid being evicted from their homes.

The Webster Community Chest’s annual fund drive is underway right now. To find out more about the agency and how you can help, visit their website here.

Bonnie Reynolds from WCC also just told me about a great event the agency is sponsoring next week at the Webster Public Library. She wrote,

Girl Scouts Reis Arnold and Ainsley Smith of Troop 60415 spearheaded a food drive for our Food Giveaway to be held at the Public Library on Monday Nov. 28 from 5 to 7 p.m.

People can come in and grab a bag which has ingredients for three meals, plus a recipe card. Some of the meals are themed and include Pizza Night and Italian Night. Other meals are Shepherds Pie, Taco Chicken and BBQ Chicken. The girls will be there to help distribute the bags. 

Webster Community Chest Webster Community Chest does not have a permanent home for their food pantry right now. But they do have a storage room and will be hosting pop-up food give-aways for now. We are also searching for places to put food donation boxes and for people to organize these food collections, so if you know anyone who can help …..?

Little Free Pantries

Have you heard about “Little Free Food Pantries”? They’re a great twist on Little Free Libraries. These are small, stand-alone pantries filled with non-perishable food items, where the concept is “take what you need, leave what you can.”

There are six pantries in the Webster area. Five are hosted by church congregations and can be found in the church parking lots. They’re at the Webster Baptist Church on South Ave, Immanuel Lutheran Church on West Main St., the United Church of Christ on Klem Rd., St. Martin’s Lutheran Church on Bay Rd. and Bethlehem Lutheran Church on Plank Rd. The sixth can be found at Phillips Village.

Donations can be made at any time; just drive up, open the pantry and put in your donations. So maybe next time you head to Wegmans, consider picking an extra half dozen cans of veggies, a few boxes of cereal, maybe some spaghetti, and swing by one of these pantries on the way home.

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(posted 11/25/2022)

Thank you Jersey Mike’s, from Wreaths Across America

24 Nov

Back row (L-R): Jonathan Duque (Jersey Mike’s Director of Operations); George Baker (President, Webster Union Cemetery); Joseph Bozzone (Pittsford GM). Front row (L-R): Frederick Bloss, Kayla Sexton (Director of Operations); Marlon Duque (Webster GM); Will Sullivan (Victor GM), Cherie Wood (Wreaths Across America Location Coordinator and member of the Daughters of American Revolution, Candandaigua Chapter).

In this season when we’re especially thankful for the people in our lives, I want to send a huge thank you out today to Jersey Mike’s Subs for their unwavering support of Wreaths Across America.

On Monday afternoon, several Jersey Mike’s representatives gathered at the Webster location on Monday afternoon to present a big check to Wreaths Across America. In a month-long promotion during which the Webster and Victor stores gave out coupons for free subs, chips and drinks in return for donations, Jersey Mike’s raised $615.

The funds are enough to sponsor 41 wreaths, but also, $205 will be used by the Gold Star mothers to purchase Christmas toys for military families in need.

Cherie Wood, our local Wreaths Across America Location Coordinator, expressed her gratitude to Jersey Mikes not just for this donation, but also for being one of the top corporate donors to Wreaths Across America in the nation, having donated at least $100,000 to the cause.

Jersey Mike’s Director of Operations Jonathan Duque explained that commitment in part when he said, “Even though we’re a franchise, we try to be mom-and-pop, and give back to the customers that come in.”

Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization which began 31 years ago, its mission to place a wreath on the grave of every veteran in the country. Last year, 2.4 million wreaths were placed in more than 3,100 cemeteries in the U.S. and abroad. This year, Webster Union Cemetery, at the corner of Rt. 250 and Woodhull, will join that list.

Webster Union is the resting place for about 650 veterans, so decorating every one of the their graves will require that many wreaths. Sponsorships are still available. Each wreath costs just $15, and $5 from each sponsorship will go directly to the Blue Star Mothers, who will use the funds to prepare and ship care packages to deployed servicemen and women. Click here for more information and to sponsor a wreath.

Sometime in early December the wreaths will be delivered to the cemetery by a Wreaths Across America 18-wheeler, which will make its way through the village to the cemetery. Keep tabs on this blog and my Facebook page to see when we can expect the truck, so we can all cheer it on.

Then on Wreath Day, December 17, the community will be invited to the cemetery to view a short ceremony at noon, then help lay the 650 wreaths to honor our fallen heroes. More details to come about that.

Several Jersey Mike’s staff members and managers have already signed on to help out.

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(posted 11/23/2022)

Happy Thanksgiving!

24 Nov

To my loyal readers, Happy Thanksgiving. I am so very thankful for all of you. I hope you are spending this day with friends and family.

New indoor dog park will serve dogs AND their humans

22 Nov

Today I’d like to offer a sneak peak at a brand new business opening soon which will be of particular interest to dogs and the humans they love.

It’s called Woofs Canine Club and Indoor Dog Park, located at 187 West Main St. (at the corner of Barrett Dr.), in the former World Gym.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of an indoor dog park, you’re not alone. There aren’t many of them out there, even here in Rochester, where an indoor park makes a lot of sense. And this one is even different from the ones that ARE out there. Owner Christine Gigante has taken the idea of an outdoor dog park and, she says, “put a spin on it.”

What she means by that is that while Woofs will have the amenities you’ve seen at your average outdoor dog runs, like separate areas for large and small dogs, and lots of agility equipment on artificial turf, Christine will also be focusing on the human component of every dog/owner relationship.

Christine wants to make sure that dog owners get as much out of their visits as their dogs do. She recognizes that getting together with other dog owners has a huge social benefit, so she’s carving out areas for a cafe, pool table and a dart board so people can relax and have conversations while their dogs are getting some exercise. There will even be a small gym area so owners can get a workout while their dogs are getting a workout. (Both the cafe and gym will be separated from the run area by low walls so owners can watch their dogs play.) She’s even thinking about occasionally bringing in food trucks to help build the community.

“If I build it for the dogs, I automatically build it best for the humans,” Christine said. “It’s about getting quality time in your life back.”

Downstairs, a smaller room is being turned into a kind of private “V.I.P.” (very important pup) dog park which can be reserved for dogs with special needs. Next to that is space for a groomer and a photographer.

There’s still plenty of work to be done, but Christine is hoping to open in early December. Admission is membership-based, with day passes and packages available. Click here for more details, and I’ll let you know when Woofs is officially open!  

A now a second, somewhat related part to this story:

A little while ago, Christine Gigante entered a contest called “Fab Over 40.”

The contest, sponsored in part by NewBeauty magazine, has invited women to submit their photos and stories for a chance to win $40,000, a two-page spread in the magazine, and a spa vacation.

Anyone can vote for their chosen contestant, and the really cool thing is that the contest also benefits the National Breast Cancer Foundation. While you do have the option to vote once a day without making a donation, if you DO choose to make a donation, your contestant will receive one vote for every dollar you donate.

So if you donate $10 to the Breast Cancer Coalition, your contestant will get 10 votes.

Christine has made it all the way through to the semi-finals, and has asked me to pass along the news. If you’d like to add your votes — and donations — to the cause, you can click here to see Christine’s page. (She would use her winnings to help build the new dog park.) Voting started this week and will run through Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.

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(posted 11/22/2022)

Sharing the mission of mobility: Bella’s Bumbas went to preschool

21 Nov

I haven’t blogged recently about my friends at Bella’s Bumbas, but rest assured, these fine folks are still doing great things for our community, and in our community.

Bella’s Bumbas is run by Webster residents Marty Parzynski and Rebecca Orr, dedicated to building miniature wheelchairs for children with a wide variety of mobility issues. In the five years since Marty built the first Bella’s Bumba for their niece Bella, they’ve shipped 2,600 chairs to children in 64 countries, often adapting the chairs for each child’s individual needs, and charging the parents only for shipping.

Recently, Marty and Rebecca brought several of their chairs, and their message, to the 3 and 4-year old preschoolers at Webster Christian Reformed Church. The visit had two goals: the first was to introduce the idea to these young children that there are a lot of kids out there who can’t get around as easily as they can.

“Some children can’t use their legs,” Rebecca explained to them, “so they have to have wheels.”

The chairs, she told the preschoolers, allow these children with special needs to still have fun, play with their siblings and friends, go to the spray park, roll around the playground and even along an ocean beach. The Bella’s Bumbas give them the mobility they had never before experienced.

Secondly, Rebecca and Marty hope their message of inclusion will filter down into the preschoolers’ homes, and encourage conversations with their adults.

Rebecca explained,

“One of the biggest ‘hopes’ most special needs parents have for their children is inclusion, for their child to be included in normal child’s play. Most children shy away from a child in a wheelchair or with leg braces. If families teach their children when they’re young about children like our ‘Bumbaleers’ who have different needs, and understand even at a young age how these children aren’t much different and just want to play, it would be a better world for all children.

Rebecca and Marty reinforced their message by letting the children try out the mini Bella’s Bumba wheelchairs for themselves. Not surprisingly, they very quickly got the hang of rolling themselves all around the room, using just their arms to push their wheels. They even saw how “kicking” a ball by nudging it with the wheelchair allowed them to play with their friends.

Bella’s Bumbas, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in March, is an all-volunteer organization, relying on a small but dedicated group to build the chairs and fulfill several other roles like picking up donated bubble wrap from drop boxes around town. They offer four different wheelchair designs, adapted to children’s particular needs. They’ve even developed a pull-behind cart for those children who need to carry an oxygen tank or other appliance with them at all times.

The organization is always looking for donations of bubble wrap and boxes, and of course they greatly appreciate monetary donations. For more information and to find out more about you can help, visit the Bella’s Bumbas website.

Check out these photos of the kids trying out the Bella’s Bumbas and playing ball together. They very quickly learned how easy it is to turn the chair, roll forward and backward, kick a ball back and forth, or pick it up and throw it to their friends. Even without using their legs, they could play just like any other kid.

And that’s what it’s all about.

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(posted 11/21/2022)