Yesterday, I was reading my copy of the Bedford Bulletin and was moved by their front page story about Andy Wilks. Andy Wilks died in a tragic accident March 15, 2004. He was 22 years old. He worked in his church to keep it tidy and to keep the pews stocked for visitors. Andy was born with multiple handicaps in 1979. But, as so often happens, he was a light to those around him. He reached out to others and brought happiness simply by caring and showing his love for people, church and God.
There were many special stories about Andy, but his parents used one event in his life to spur one of their outreach efforts in his honor. When Andy turned 12, his brother Jon joined the Air Force and left home for the first time. He gave Andy a teddy bear designed to comfort him during Jon's absence. This teddy bear was named 'Jon Bear' and became an important part of Andy's life.
His parents have turned his loss and his special story into an opporutunity to help others. They recently donated a large number of teddy bears to the Bedford County Sheriff's office. These teddy bears, protectivly wrapped, will ride with deputies so that they will have something comforting to give to a distraught child. As a mom, I can appreciate this personally. Once on vacation on the other side of the country, my son became very ill. We had to take him to the emergency room and they had a homemade stuffed pig that was given to him during the tests he had to endure. He still has that pig. Then a couple of years ago, I was taken to the Emergency Room by ambulance while my children were falling apart. I had a gall bladder attack, but we thought it might be a heart attack. The rescue worker gave my daughter a small animal for her to hold. These stuffed animals really help children during difficult times.
Another program Andy's family have started is to raise money to help families with special needs children. There are so many difficulties when you have a child with special needs. It's not just the emotional shock and adjustment, it's often a life long commitment to their care. There are all kinds of therapy appointments, doctor appointmensts, special equipment, special toys, special foods even. This is a wonderful cause to support. Go to Andy's Light for more information on how you can participate.