Monday, August 25, 2008

Clarence Alumni - The Tami Barillari Blemel Memorial Walk / Pregnant With Cancer

Pregnancy is supposed to be a joyous time, focused on bringing a new life into the world. Then, for some, comes the dreaded word "cancer". It now becomes a race with time, hoping treatment can be put off successfully until after birth. Aggressive options must be delayed in order to assure the health of the unborn child.

There are many survivors, but sometimes the delay proves to be too long. Clarence alumna ('66) Karen Milgate passed away, while her family stepped in to help her husband in his new role as a single parent.

Clarence alumna ('85) Tami Barillari Blemel received the diagnosis of breast cancer in her 1st trimester. From the Breast Cancer Canal Walk (Lockport) web page:
"At the time of her diagnosis of breast cancer, Tami was 31 years old. She and her husband Michael were expecting their third child and she was just beginning her second trimester. She noticed a subtle pain in her breast, then a lump the next day. Her doctors made the diagnosis quickly and she required two surgeries. Difficult choices followed. She chose not to sacrifice her child which amounted to accepting more risks from what was known to be an aggressive cancer. She opted to have a course of chemotherapy during the second trimester. Her obstetricians delivered her third son, Andrew Bennett, four weeks early so that she would not delay her radiation treatment any further...

Her three-and-a-half year battle with cancer that followed coincided with the most magical times in a young couple’s life - a new baby, many milestones for three young children and a new home. During that time she somehow managed to be joyful. She told me many times how cancer gives you the gift of perfect perspective. The rest of us lack that vision most days. We burden ourselves with the unimportant stuff. She appreciated the sheer miracle and uniqueness of each of her children. She never took for granted her husband’s love and tireless devotion. She weathered many painful treatments with bravery and optimism."
On Saturday, September 13th the 7th Annual Tami Barillari Blemel Memorial Walk will take place in Clarence NY. You can join the walk, or donations can be made to the Pregnant with Cancer Network, in care of board member Clarence alumna ('85) Janet Hammond Vesper (9750 Greiner Road, Clarence NY 14031).

The Pregnant with Cancer Network is an organization dedicated to providing women diagnosed with cancer while pregnant with information, support, and hope.

Participate or donate because you knew Tami. Donate because the diagnosis of pregnant with cancer has touched you, family, or friends. Donate if you've been blessed that it hasn't.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Williams Hall

100 years ago the Clarence Center Volunteers Firemen Company was formed. E.W. Eshelman donated the land for a fire hall and the company set out to raise money to build one. The first firemen's picnic was held in July of that year for fundraising, and the tradition has continued ever since. Wesley Williams donated a large sum of money to the fund, thus "Williams Hall".

As time went on more space was needed for trucks, since there was only one doorway, on the lower left. Eventually another hall was built and the original was mothballed. Now it's gone, but you knew that if you went to the picnic last year.

Now the site of Williams Hall bears a marker with a plaque on the back - gone but not forgotten. While demolition by neglect still irks me, it's not uncommon, unfortunately. The Buffalo Memorial Auditorium being another example of this mindset, as well as the grand interior of the no longer used entrance to the Buffalo Science Museum (at least that may be renovated).

There is a bright side - now the bandstand can be seen from Clarence Center Road. This isn't the place that Route 66, Hit n Run, and West of Mark will play - they'll be on a stage in the beer tent. No, this bandstand will be home to a more low-key style. The groups there will play the kind of music that all ages can enjoy while eating or resting from walking around.

The picture of Williams Hall is also a reminder to take photos of historic buildings while you can. You never know - one day you may show up to capture an image for posterity, camera in hand, and find out it's gone. I should know, because it happened to me.