Libby’s love for children has never been disputed and that love caused her to constantly look for ways to engage all children, ensuring that none were ever overlooked, which is why she commented on more than one occasion that our church needed a playground. After visiting area playgrounds during the summer of 2013 and doing additional research, Libby’s vision of a playground soon faded when we learned that the costs were far more than either of us expected with even the smallest playgrounds costing tens of thousands of dollars.
Fast forward six months and Libby was still struggling to recover her health while doctors tried to determine the exact cause of her horrible headaches and the loss of a third of her body weight. Because of Libby’s precarious health I had to limit the number of visitors which created a sense of helplessness among our friends and family and left many of them wondering how they could help. Suggestions were made to hold bake sales, road blocks and even a 5 K run, all to raise money for Libby.
My initial impulse was to graciously decline any fund raising efforts for Libby since we had good insurance and money for the deductibles. What I finally came to realize was that it was never about the money, the fundraising effort gave our friends and our community a purpose and and a feeling that they were helping contribute to Libby’s recovery. That’s when I remembered the discussions about the playground during the summer and so without asking for Libby’s permission, I made a few phone calls, launched a fund raiser webpage and formed a non profit called “Libby’s Living Legacy” to begin collecting money to build a playground to honor Libby’s love of children.
After the proverbial reins were released people began calling or texting with ideas on how they wanted to help and with little more than an, “Okay by me”, Libby’s Living Legacy fundraisers began springing up throughout the community of Chattanooga Valley. It was an amazing outpouring of love for someone who had touched so many people in our community.
An incident happened one day as some of the students from Libby’s children’s program lined up to each hand over a dollar of their allowance to help build a playground for Miss Libby. I hugged each little girl in turn thanking them for their gift but the youngest stood off from the others and nervously looked down at her feet shuffling back and forth. I looked over and asked, “Can I get a hug?” She shook her head “No”. So I asked, “Why not?” and she answered shyly, “Because I don’t have any dollar”. (She got the biggest hug ever until she said, “You are squeezing me too hard, I can’t breathe”).
It was the gifts of pennies and dollars from children and the $9.67 earned by selling lemonade during a Saturday afternoon that I remember more than the corporate sponsors and large donors as this fundraiser started to pick up some serious momentum.
Within days of starting Libby’s Living Legacy the dream of creating a community playground began to develop a life of its own, meanwhile, still in the hospital, Libby was still fighting for hers.