Brave Heart

by Jay Hobson

Tyler Lewandowski.

Vivianne Lewandowski sits on the sofa in the living room of the home she shares with her husband Ray, son Tyler, 5, and 21-month-old daughter, Chali, at 4 Debbi Lane.  She speaks of a condition her son was born with and, through medical procedures, is living with for the rest of his life.

Tyler is shy and hides from the prying eyes of the reporter with the notebook and camera, but not for long. He soon zooms into the room with the energy and zeal of a typical child with an active imagination.

Small for his age, Tyler was born a few weeks premature, but that wasn’t all. During her pregnancy, an ultrasound picked up something. Tyler had a problem.

Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome is a condition where the developing child’s heart doesn’t develop normally, leaving, as in Tyler’s case, the right ventricle of the heart severely under-developed.

Through ultrasound, Tyler’s heart problem was diagnosed 21 weeks into Vivianne’s pregnancy, and doctors advised her to terminate the pregnancy.

The Lewandowski’s were referred to Children’s Hospital in Boston, and the staff there referred them to a cardiologist who gave them hope.  They made the decision not to terminate the pregnancy.

“Support groups and families of pediatric heart patients helped us as did the organization called Little Hearts,” Lewandowski said.

According to the Little Hearts Website, 1 in 125 children are born with congenital heart defects and it is the #1 birth defect in children.

With the family awaiting a child to be born with a heart condition, the Lewandowski’s were aware that their child would need quick medical intervention.  At four-days-old, young Tyler had his first of three surgeries.  First, a Blalock-Taussig shunt that would put a tube in his heart.  At 9-months-old, surgery number two removed the shunt.  The third surgery, when Tyler was 3-years-old, was called a Fenestrated Fontan which left a hole in Tyler’s heart to drain blood. 

“We kid around with him and say he’s got a zipper in his chest.  Even after three operations, Tyler only has one scar,” Lewandowski said.

Last Friday, young Tyler once again had a medical procedure on his heart.  This time a cardiac cathertization, a catheter with a camera on the end, was inserted in his thighs and traveled to his heart so the doctors could inspect it.

“After Friday, hopefully we’re done.  Twenty years ago, kids like Tyler would have no hope,” Lewandowski said.

The Lewandowski’s say they take every day one day at a time and enjoy life as much as possible.

Tyler is in Special Education with a speech therapist that helps with speech issues that may have been influenced by his premature birth.  He will be attending kindergarten in the fall at Salem High’s Vocational Program.

“You’d think with his heart problem he’d have other problems, but he’s a healthy kid other than his heart,” Lewandowski said.

As for his energy, his mother sits back with a smile and says, “You couldn’t slow him down if you wanted to; I’ve tried.  He’s a bundle of energy, a miracle.”

Racing for a Cure

by Katelyn Haggerty

The Mildred Williams Ladies Driving Series harness racers.  From left:  Ann Curran, Brenda Provost, Diane Long, --in middle?  Kelly Case--, Dawn Anderson, Bonnie Rush, Diane Hellen, and Stacey Lord. 

On Friday, August 3, several of the best women drivers in North America competed at Rockingham Park in Salem to fund breast cancer research. 

The races were part of the Mildred Williams Ladies Driving Series, an international harness racing series that raises money for various charities while traveling to venues throughout the United States and Canada.  Each of the eight lady drivers that participated in the race donated their earnings to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Fund, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for 25 years.  The money raised will go towards research of the disease at every stage, and will also fund the search for a cure while empowering women and saving lives.  Rockingham Park also accepted donations at the Clubhouse and Grandstand for any who wished to contribute to the fight against the disease. 

Carded as the seventh of 10 races that afternoon, the Mildred Williams Driving Series race was packed with talented drivers.  The ladies included:  Diane Hellen driving Speedtrap Hall, Ann Curran driving Swinging Carol, Kelly Case driving Wit Disturber, Dawn Anderson driving Boundless Honor, Bonnie Rush driving Downhill Skier, Diane Long driving Midtown Jazz, Stacey Lord driving Mystical Wizzard, and Brenda Provost driving Fancy Cardshark. 

Even in the 90 degree heat, the race was a fast one and the lady drivers handled the reins with ease.  Winner of the race with 20 years experience and 751 wins under her belt was Kelly Case.  Currently ranking fourth in the Mildred Williams series, Case is an accomplished driver with a powerhouse stable and is a top trainer for Rockingham Park.  Case trains and has campaigned Wit Disturber, the three-year-old horse that she handled for the win at Rockingham Park this season.  Wit Disturber has now won three of his last seven starts at Rockingham.  He is owned by J. Edwards, C. Edwards, J.F. Devlin, and J.A. Devlin. 

Confident and cool under the pressure, Case came out with the win in 1:55.1.  Case also offered to donate her trainer’s share of the winnings as well. 

“It felt really good out there,” she said.  “I miss being out there driving.  I had 750 wins and now I have 751.  This one is special because of the charity involved and the fight to find a cure for breast cancer.”

Case said that driving in a field of all women is different from driving against the men.

“Usually in a race like this, it’s the luck of the draw,” she explained.  “But as it worked out, I got to drive my own horse and that definitely helped.  I’ve only had this horse for a few weeks and I’m still trying to figure him out, but he fit the class.  I called the owner and he agreed to put him in, and I really appreciate that.”

After a great race for a great cause, the day ended well.  The fight for a cure is a step further because of the kindness of these lady racers. 

Kelly Case crosses the finish line.

Kelly Case, race winner.

Simon Brooks, Storyteller

Simon takes listeners to a time and place, far away, where a talking spider tricks Sky Chief, Raven finds light, Turtle races with Beaver, and Old Man Death finds himself stuck in a nutshell.  Simon draws from a world of story.  From hundreds of tales of myth, legend, and folklore, he tells of heroes and heroines, animals, dragons, trolls, tales of pirates, Greek gods, and fairies.  All of his stories are filled with many kinds of treasure and adventure.  Simon performs using unique voices to animate his tales and adds expressive body language, which brings the stories to life.  Simon’s often funny storytelling delighted everyone who attended Kelley Library.  This was a show that was well worth the adventure. 

Knitting Club

Stephanie, one of the many unselfish members, shows her work.

This article is being written because it is very important to recognize the dedication and unselfish commitment given by this club.  The founders of the Salem Knitting Club (Paula McGullivray and Sandy Demers) talked with pride about this organization.  These ladies get together and make beautiful baby hats, sweaters, booties, prayer shawls, lap quilts, and their latest invention, “shrugs.”  All of the yarn is donated.  All finished pieces are donated to “Babies In Need – Kingston,” as well as at nursing homes (Salem Haven and Silverthorne), the Salem Community Hospital and the Northeast Rehab.  There are close to 25 members who meet every Thursday from 1 – 3 p.m.  Donations of yarn are always needed.  Hats off to these incredible women!

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