TWP VICTORY. — Spectators filled the stands and swarmed the edges of the rink Saturday night at the West Shore Community Ice Arena in support of the Ludington Optimist Club and Charity Lawler childhood cancer campaign.
The game – dubbed ‘Drop the Mitts Against Cancer’ – was organized by her older brother, Keegan, to not only help their sister, but also to raise money for the childhood cancer campaign.
Charity was also there at the game.
” This is completely crazy. I had no idea so many people liked me,” Charity said. “Honestly, I didn’t think that. I really appreciate all that. It helps me.
“Being here right now, I love it. I love it.”
Charity kept her distance from the crowd as best she could and wore a mask, gloves and a stocking cap. She said she was feeling fine Saturday night after undergoing a battery of tests and procedures since late last fall at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.
“I feel good right now,” she said. “I’m so happy. I’m fine… It’s been tough. It’s been brutal. I have sores in my mouth. I have rashes. There are a lot of things that come with chemo, and that’s not isn’t fun.
Lori Lawler, Charity and Keegan’s mum, is mum to eight children in all – Connor, Dean, Hope, Bodey, Bradey and Skyleigh as well. Connor and Keegan graduated from Ludington, but came back with help from their teammates and then some for Saturday’s game.
“All those boys, boys between 25 and 30, the original guys who started this hockey program since the rink opened,” Lori said, “all those boys are now men. It’s really cool. It’s the first time on the ice in 12, 13 years together.
“This is not just happening for Charity, but for all of my eight children.”
The event is one of many that has drawn attention to Charity Lawler’s battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The West Shore Wolves 14 and under hockey team held a fundraiser in mid-December. Ludington’s cheerleading programs — both competitive and secondary — held fundraisers on Jan. 14 in conjunction with the first-ever competitive team home meet in program history and a basketball game. masculine later that night.
Lori said the December event was a bit of an idea of what the community is doing for others in need.
“We got a little taste of what it could be. Dec. 19, we had a preview, but (Charity) was still at Helen DeVos…I was able to attend. Facetiming, tears, crying, overwhelmed,” she said, turning to the packed house on Saturday and adding, “It’s for my daughter. It’s for our daughter.
Lori said while trying to keep her cool that although she doesn’t have extended family along the shore like in Saginaw where she grew up, the community has kept her here.
“I have my family here,” she said, overwhelmed with emotion. “I have my family here. I haven’t raised these kids for the past eight years on my own, I haven’t. As always, look at this place…
“Every person in Ludington, whether I’ve ever met you or not, they know that and they got me,” she said. “I’ve never really been alone even though I’m the only one doing this thing. I’m not because I have them all…
“I’m overwhelmed, and Charity is overwhelmed.”
Charity Lawler’s birthday was January 19 and she was home from the hospital at that time as well. Otherwise, she was locked up in the hospital to fight her form of cancer.
“I’ve got maybe two more months, tops,” she said. “But so far so good.”
Lori Lawler said Charity has yet to undergo medical procedures, including in the past two weeks. They expect more results from the procedures.
“The wait is hard, but whatever, we will move forward. We have more chemo to do,” Lori said. “We knew we were living in this for six months, whatever (the path needed to help Charity get better).”
The Lawlers have greatly enjoyed the Childhood Cancer Campaign, co-chaired by Tom and Patricia Ezdebski.
“I met (Tom) and I talked to him, and I was like, ‘You don’t know me. You don’t know me. Why are you doing this? You don’t know me,'” Lori recalled. “It doesn’t matter. These people, I don’t know what it is, Ludington make good human beings. They’re good…human…beings.”
“Charity had a tough time at school… She’ll say, ‘Mom, I didn’t know anyone loved me that much.’ I knew it (Saturday), bringing her here would boost morale.