Children’s Wishes & Dreams of Walla Walla treated sisters Ava and Holly Braendlein to a trip to a downtown bike store and a favorite local sweet shop in mid-October, said Kara Schulke, who helps coordinate CW&D’s wishes.
Ava, 7, and Holly, 5, have been diagnosed with mitochondrial disorder. The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation says that “depending on which cells are affected, symptoms may include loss of motor control, muscle weakness and pain, gastrointestinal disorders and swallowing difficulties, poor growth, cardiac disease, liver disease, diabetes, respiratory complications, seizures, visual/hearing problems, lactic acidosis, developmental delays and susceptibility to infection.”
Symptoms that both girls live with daily include fatigue, poor muscle control, compromised immune systems, difficulty regulating body temperature and issues with nutrition/eating, Kara said.
“Ava and Holly are bright girls who are home-schooled by their proud parents, Barb and Austin Braendlein of Milton-Freewater,” Kara said in a release. The girls’ 23-month-old brother, Archie, has not shown symptoms of his sisters’ condition.
The girls wished for the family to ride bikes together. CW&D equipped the whole family with brand new bikes “with the help and kindness of Allegro Cyclery.”
“Mike Austin of Allegro Cyclery was a huge help in making this wish come to fruition.”
The Braendleins also got new helmets and a Burley bike trailer for Archie that can be towed behind either of the parents’ bikes.
“After a few trips on their new bikes up and down the sidewalk on Main Street, the girls and their family were treated to some sweets at Bright’s Candies. It was the perfect ending to a great day,” Kara said.
The girls also wished to ride on a train. Thus CW&D planned a trip for the Braendlein family to ride the Polar Express in Hood River at the end of November. They will be treated to an all-expenses-paid weekend excursion where they will ride the Polar Express with Santa and his elves.
Polar Express guests are encouraged to wear pajamas and CW&D will provide the Braendlein children with new jammies to wear that day, Kara said.
As a bonus, photographer Kimberly Miner of Walla Walla donated a photo shoot for the family. “The memories she captures will be treasured forever.”
“The Children’s Wishes & Dreams organization feels very fortunate to be centered in such a generous and giving community,” Kara said. Many of the wishes granted involve local businesses/people who are 100 percent supportive of our goal.”
Jeff and Kara joined CW&D about 71/2 years ago. “It touches close to our home and our hearts,” she said. The couple’s oldest son, Cooper, died at 71/2 on Oct. 10, 2002, from brain cancer.
“Before he passed away, our Cooper was granted a wish by the Wishing Star Foundation. The memories we have of that time with him are priceless treasures.”
“When we first heard of CW&D we knew it was a perfect place for us to focus some of our grief and attention.” Since that time, they have helped with fundraisers, coordinated trips and made wishes and dreams come true for youngsters suffering life threatening or life-altering illnesses or injury.
The Schulkes’ other children, Campbell, 13, and Emerson, 8, have become active participants in helping grant wishes as well.
“We all thoroughly enjoy the looks on the faces of the kids we work with. The reactions and smiles are worth more than gold,” Kara said.
CW&D supports children in Walla Walla County and outlying areas. The local chapter was started by Tom and Peggie Vandenberg of Touchet, whose volunteer efforts are aided by Kara and Jeff.
For more details on the organization or to nominate a child for a wish, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations to the fund may be made to Peggie Vandenberg, P.O. Box 76, Touchet, WA 99360 or call 509-520-5396. The group operates 100 percent from donations. “Every little bit adds up to big smiles on a local child’s face,” Kara said.
I never tire of hearing about other people’s life experiences. Mentioning Mill Creek fun-time activities in the 1950s recently in this column on a Tuesday opened an awesome floodgate of memories from local folks who grew up here or worked alongside the creek.
When I reran Alfred Dunn’s painting from a 1956 Ford Times magazine showing two kids waving from the channel to a U-B paper carrier on a bridge in the foreground and a vintage photo of the creek in the downtown area, Walla Wallans Dottie Monahan, George McCoy, Candace Rose and Leonard Adams recognized the locations.
The consensus is that the painting was done from the Clinton Street bridge looking eastward upstream, while the black and white photo of the creek was shot at the Palouse Street bridge looking upstream.
“The paper carrier could well have been me because I had the Union-Bulletin route there off Clinton Street in the 1950s,” Leonard said.
“I don’t recall having played (in the creek) after it was paved, but I used to swim behind Edison School and I was written up in ‘Twice Told in Walla Walla’ because I pulled a kid out of there who was in over his head one time. I used to go into the creek behind Fire Station 2, which is now the Red Cross office (at Park Street) before it was paved, and we’d catch crawdads and play around.”
Despite the inherent danger of being in the paved portion of the creek, kids used to romp around in it during the warmer months. To reiterate, it’s not an acceptable place to be without express permission from the city and county for a variety of safety reasons and one never knows when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will release water from further upstream.
“And yes, it really was fun to play in the Mill Creek channel on hot summer days when we didn’t have the money to go to Memorial Pool to swim,” Dottie said.
“I only remember swimming at the Natatorium twice and at Graybill’s (pool) perhaps five or six times. The Memorial was our go-to place in the summer. Sometimes we’d stop at Shady Lawn Creamery on the way home to buy a strawberry creamsicle made with Klicker berries.”
The vintage photo that accompanied that painting in my column on Oct. 29 was of water gushing along the channel in the downtown area.
Sure enough, George and Candace recognized the balcony overhanging the creek because they both worked there, in the Bennett Printing building at 35 S. Palouse St. George was on staff from 1983 until it closed in 2005.
During his tenure, George said “we had several times when the creek was high, could hear the roar and look down on it from the balcony.”
Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at email@example.com or afternoons at 526-8313.