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No matter what the age is, families are important

April 18, 2010
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

First, there's family.

Wherever you go, whenever you go, there's always family. That's a good thing.

When 10-year-old Katie Finnegan, a fourth-grade student at St. Paul Lutheran School, was diagnosed with type I diabetes last November, her family went through the expected period of anger and fear, but then realized anger and fear wouldn't help Katie and they changed.

They even put together a team called Katelyn's Hope to walk in the Walk to Cure Diabetes in Des Moines on April 10 to help raise money for research for a cure for diabetes.

Katie had heard about Camp Hertko Hollow, a summer camp at Boone for children with diabetes, and she wanted to go, but faced a $1,000 fee. That's where Heather Farrell came in.

Farrell's daughter Kayla, who died in a car accident in December 2007, also had juvenile diabetes. Because she knew what the Finnegans were going through, Farrell decided to help and raised the $1,000 needed to send Katie to camp this summer.

What a beautiful thing to do. Sometimes family is more than a mother or father - it's anyone who shows love and concern for someone else and goes any extra distance to help.

At 10, Katie is just starting her life, and the possibilities are endless. In Eagle Grove, Elizabeth Catherine Campbell Nearing turned 107 years old on the same day Katie walked for diabetes - April 10.

Nearing, the grandmother of Cheryl Sherry, of Fort Dodge, lives at Rotary Ann Nursing Home. She was born and raised on Cape Breton Island near Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. Her family was Scottish Catholic, and she even spoke some gaelic.

Now just able to respond to questions and sometimes talk about a memory, Nearing has previously told family about picking up debris from the Titanic, about seeing Haley's Comet both in 1910 and in 1986 and about teaching in a one-room country school. She considered herself a modern, a flapper, and remembers binding her breasts to have that proper silhouette of a flapper.

"My grandmother was quite the flirt and enjoyed being single," Sherry said. But she finally married Adrian Alexander Nearing, a coal miner with a seventh-grade education who worked miles out under the Atlantic Ocean. She was very proper and insisted on proper dress and proper settings at the table. She had a bad habit of correcting your grammar. My dad called her the queen mother."

Now the queen mother lives quietly in Eagle Grove. Her daughter and granddaughter are in Fort Dodge. Her grandson, Jeff Rhode, is in Storm Lake.

"She was and is an amazing lady," Sherry said. "The staff there take wonderful care of her, and she enjoys them very much. She still enjoys a good cup of tea. Black tea with milk in it. That certain color of beige."

No matter how old the person, family matters. But it's the stories, maybe, that tell so much.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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