Children Hop On Over to Windham Egg Hunt
by Karen Plumley
Spring was in the air at Windham Town Hall on Saturday for the annual Easter Egg Hunt organized by the Windham Recreation Department. Boy Scouts were also present to lend a helping hand. Children of all ages gathered at the historic building and participated in the event, which has become a yearly tradition. The Easter Bunny provided a great photo opportunity for parents as well.
In a well thought out plan, the egg hunt was organized by age group, with three to five year olds hunting for their eggs on one part of the lawn, while simultaneously, six to eight year olds gathered their treats at a separate location. Shortly after, a new, more challenging egg hunt was set up for those children nine years old and older.
Eggs were stuffed with all kinds of treats including little chocolate eggs, tootsie rolls, and stickers. A huge line began to form around the Town Hall parking lot, and parents waited with their children to take pictures with the Easter Bunny. Bails of hay were set up on the lawn as well, and smaller children delighted in tossing bits of it around, while giggling and having a good time. The event was heavily attended. After the festivities, most families had to make quite a trek back to their cars, some of which were parked hundreds of feet away along side streets beyond the Windham Presbyterian Church.
Inventioneers Meet Senator Sununu
by Lynne Ober
Seven inquisitive, talented children, who form the Lego team, The Inventioneers, recently met with Senator John Sununu.
These children, aged nine to 14, are from Londonderry, Pelham, and Nashua. Each youngster joined the team at a different time, but the team itself was formed three years ago by parents of children interested in taking their Lego hobby many, many steps further.
This ambitious team took a giant leap last year, when it won the State Championship, and is now destined to compete internationally at the World Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, on the weekend of April 12. The competition has four parts. The first two are teamwork and technical judging. The third is the table challenge. This part of the competition requires the team to build its own robot to complete a series of instructions by programming a special Lego component. The programming alone took the young inventors over four months.
Despite the duration of the project, Sarah, a team member who has been with The Inventioneers for the full three years of its existence, commented that she likes the programming. “I like to use science and technology to solve real world problems. It’s a really rewarding experience.” One of the youngest members of the team, nine-year-old Nick, enthused, “You wouldn’t believe how exciting it is to win!”
Meeting with Senator Sununu was also exciting. The senator used to work for inventor Dean Kamen and swapped stories about Kamen with team members.
The children and their robot will enjoy the World Festival. While it’s great to win, the excitement that these youngsters generate about the competition makes one realize that win or lose, it was really all about the learning and the teamwork that got them where they are.
Matty Dubuc: An Angel Watching Over Us
by Maureen Gillum
A brave seven year old, Matthew Richard Dubuc, died peacefully last week in his Hudson home with his family close by. With permission from his parents, the Hudson~Litchfield News, excerpted some Web journal entries (www.caringbridge.org/visit/matty) to help tell his story. Readers may also remember “Matty” on the front page of the Hudson~Litchfield News on October 7, 2005, dressed in a Red Sox jacket. With obvious pride and equal determination, the bald six-year old threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park (9/05). That image alone many won’t forget; but it is Matty’s immense faith and compassion in the face of his illness that is most unforgettable.
The courageous youngster died Sunday night, March 25, at his Eagle Drive home with his family – dad John, mom Sandra (Cohan), and brothers Christopher, 9, and Zachary,2, – by his side. He succumbed to Hepatoblastoma, a rare form of liver cancer, as the Hudson~Litchfield News reported (3-30-07, page 3).
His mother wrote that night, “Our sweet Matty-boy earned his angel wings tonight. He died peacefully in his sleep, just what we prayed for.” She also added, “It just came to me that Christopher was the last one to tell Matty that he loved him, before Matty fell asleep tonight. That’s something I’ll remember forever!!”
Matthew was first diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma (liver cancer), Stage IV on July 6, 2004, at the tender age of four. It is a rare form of liver cancer and affects only one in a million children a year. Since then, the Dubucs have endured an incredible amount. “Stage IV of the disease means that it has spread; in Matthew’s case it spread to his lungs (at initial diagnosis and 13 months later when he relapsed), brain and left wrist bone,” explained his mother. In total, Matt had extensive months of chemotherapy, more than a dozen surgeries (including three lung and two brain surgeries), radiation, and a successful liver transplant. Through it all, they maintained an amazing attitude of faith.
When his wrist tumor got aggressive with no response to chemotherapy or radiation, his left arm was amputated from the elbow down in October 2006. Open, brave and intelligent beyond his years, Matthew returned to his class at St. Louis School in Lowell following his surgery, declaring, “I have a new arm.”
“Although we were told on November 20, 2006, that there is nothing short of a miracle that will help Matty beat this battle, we continue to believe!” yet affirmed his family.
Shortly after, Matthew returned to his first grade class at St. Louis School, to openly talk to his classmates and teacher, Sister Judy. He told them he was going to die and would be going to heaven. In true Matty style, he even tried his best to comfort and cheer them. He told his friends, in heaven, there would be no cancer or pain and his arm he would see his hand again.
Among Matthew’s first-grade classmates are the Grenier triplets of Hudson - Olivia, Nicholas, and Madaline. All three unselfishly put their prayer “for Matty to get better” on top of their Christmas wish list and encouraged others to support their friend via the Hudson’s Christmas Lights (75 Pelham Road) and his website, as cited in Hudson~Litchfield News (12-22-06, page 1). “Matty is a really brave boy that we all love,” Nick commented for all.
Matthew relished shopping trips to Toys R Us. He loved animals, especially his dog, aptly named Courage. Like many kids, he enjoyed Sponge Bob Square Pants. Matty belonged to the Lowell Youth Soccer Organization. He was the Honorary Vice-President of the East End Club of Lowell. A Boston Red Sox fan, Matthew gloried in throwing out that first pitch at Fenway on September 29, 2005.
He wasn’t afraid to stand out or be different nor did he seem to fear death. A living model of faith, Matthew was a member of St. Marguerite D’Youville Parish, formerly St. Louis Church in Lowell.
Most of all, Matty adored his family, including his parents; big brother, Christopher, 9, a third grader at St. Louis School; and his little brother, Zachary, just 2. “Christopher has always been a very good big brother,” shared Mom recently, “And Zachary has been a very good distraction for Matty (and for all of us) because he makes it too hard to focus on the frustrations of cancer when you see his smile and hear his laugh!”
A special support and communication vehicle the Dubucs used since 2005 for Matty was CaringBridge® (www.caringbridge.org). The free, non-profit web service connects family and friends to share information, love, and support during a health crisis, treatment, and recovery. A social network akin to My Space, it takes just a few moments to create your own personal and private CaringBridge Website.
Sandra posted the night (3-29) of Matty’s funeral: “How many people can say that the day they buried their child, was an awesome day? Today was an unbelievable tribute to my Matty-boy! Over 900 people attended Matty’s funeral mass.” She also detailed the long funeral procession of almost 200 cars, was led by Lowell Police motorcycles “in perfect Matty style.” Many were also touched by the St. Louis School children lined up to honor Matty outside the church. “One class held signs reading “St. Louis School Loves U Matty!” commented Sandra, “It was so incredible to see!!”
Now, more than a week since Matty “left us here on earth,” Sandra wrote to her son, “We miss you so very much! We love you to everywhere and back!” Always concerned with others, Mom also asked Matty to “please visit” his friends like Matthew F. and relatives like his grandparents “in their dreams to let them know you are OK and how very much they are loved!!”
Impressively, since Sandra launched Matty’s Website in August of 2005, he’s had more than 10,000 posted guest messages - of friendship, information, hope, prayers, tributes, and remembrances. Nearly 1,000 are from the past week alone, as far away as Ireland. Many are from neighbors, relatives, and friends to keep in touch, virtually visit, and share photos. Most, however, are from people across the country and even from around the globe whom the Dubucs have never met nor likely will. Such vehicles as CaringBridge can be powerful potential healers that offer both authors and guests “immediacy, intimacy, and wide-reaching impact.”
“Matty was such a brave boy. I know that he made an impact in everyone’s life,” one eighth grader, Kara, from Matty’s school posted at his Website recently, “Keep believing! I know Matty is an angel in heaven watching over all of you!”
Matthew’s family also requested anyone who wishes to send donations in Matty’s name to send it to the Childhood Cancer Lifeline of NH. PO Box 395, Hillsboro, NH 03244. “Your donation will go toward building a huge tree house at Camp Winning Spirit,” shared Mom. “Matty always wanted a tree house!”
“People have been so kind and generous. Johnny and I truly appreciate everyone’s ongoing support,” concluded Sandra sincerely. “We are so blessed!”