|Deirdre Mitchell and her daughters Shannon, Rebecca and Nadine with the family photograph including their late father Peter. The girls are holding the souvenirs from the New York Marathon given to them by their Uncle, Kevin Greene.|
A symbol of hope keeps Window Cleaner Peter’s memory alive for local family: A Lurgan family, robbed of a loving husband and father, have been given a ‘symbol of hope’ that keeps his memory alive. The symbol comes in the form of a medal from the New York Marathon, won by the late Peter Mitchell’s brother-in-law Kevin Greene. Peter, a well-liked window cleaner in the town, passed away on July 28 having been diagnosed with an aggressive, fast growing brain tumour exactly a year ago today (Thursday). After Peter’s diagnosis his brother-in-law Kevin Greene made the decision to train for the New York Marathon. His logic was, although he’d never competed as a runner before, at least he had the ability to walk, unlike his brother-in-law Peter who had lost that ability.
Having completed the marathon Kevin donated the medal to his sister Deirdre. He has further plans to run three more marathons so he can present nieces Rebecca (11), Nadine (8) and Shannon (7) with three more medals. Kevin, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Monday, said: “It all really came about when Peter was diagnosed and I saw Action Cancer were doing places for the New York Marathon. “Peter was the inspiration for training and doing the marathon. It was also great to be able to help such a fantastic charity as Action Cancer. Peter and the family were being helped by a lot of cancer charities. “It was a spur of the minute thing. I’m not a runner, I play a bit of football but that’s it. I saw Peter lying in hospital and I got the inspiration to do it for Peter who was wasn’t able to walk or run.”
Of his brother-in-law Kevin said: “We were very close. The fact I was doing this for a family member is what inspired me, what kept me going. “We’d have gone to Donegal together in the caravan and we’d have done the odd job together. We’re both interested in jet skis and caravans. We’d have bought a lot of things between us. There was a strong bond there.” Kevin, who lives in Taghnevan with his father Vincent, added: “When my mother Ann was sick he was always there for her. She died of cancer 12 years ago. That was another reason to do the marathon for Action Cancer.”
Having put in months of training including 6am starts at the swimming pool, Peter tackled the Big Apple’s showpiece event on November 6. He did the marathon in a time of five hours. In the process he raised almost £3,000 for Action Cancer. He added: “My aim is to do three or four marathons down the line. I’ve given the first medal to Deirdre. I want to give medals to all of the children as well.” Deirdre told how the medal serves as a symbol of hope to the family.
Of the touching moment when Kevin handed over his medal, Deirdre said: “When Kevin arrived home, he came to me with the medal he received immediately after completing the marathon. “He told me, ‘Deirdre, I want you to have this medal’. “I was totally stunned. He saw my reaction and told me he didn’t do the run for himself, but for Peter, and therefore he wanted the children and me to have the medal. “I told him, ‘But Kevin, that medal is a symbol of a great achievement YOU have made’. “He quietly told me that he will always know of his achievement inside his own mind and went on to repeat that he didn’t do the run for himself but for Peter. “The medal serves as a symbol of hope and Kevin proves that there really are good people in our local community.”
Proudly on display along with Kevin’s medal is a family photo taken in June 2010 in Lanzarote. Deirdre said: “Last June we went to Lanzarote for seven weeks. Looking back it was meant to be. It was such a perfect holiday.” “When Peter got home that’s when he took his first seizure. He was playing on the trampoline with the girls when he had to stop and rest on the bench. “I knew then something was wrong, but he was in denial. He was so, so fit and healthy. He loved walking. He couldn’t imagine it happening to him. “He was diagnosed with epilepsy and the doctor told us when adults are diagnosed with epilepsy it usually means something more serious.”
She continued: “This time last year he was being tested. It was a year ago he got the results of the biopsy. He was told he had a brain tumour in two possible areas. “It was a devastating diagnosis as we have three young children. “He really didn’t handle the news well at all. As Peter was getting out of the car at home I thought he was taking a stroke. It was another strong seizure. The ambulance was called on same day he was diagnosed. “We nearly lost him that day. We had the priest to give him the Last Rights.”
Deirdre commented: “Peter went from being a very active, well known man from the town, to being totally bed ridden within months. “He was a really nice man, really friendly, he never offended anyone. He lived for he daughters. He loved to entertain them. He’d take them anywhere they wanted to go no matter what the cost. “I gave up work completely when Peter was sick. I worked as a complimentary therapist. “I didn’t want to put him in respite. He belonged with us. We used the remaining time we had together as best we could. “He had brain surgery and radiotherapy but it wasn’t enough to save him.”
Peter died on July 28 this year aged 45. Deirdre said: “When Peter was in hospital Kevin was babysitting the girls. I came home one night from the hospital and he was sitting with the laptop. He said, ‘Deirdre, you’ll never guess what I’ve done - I’ve signed up for the New York Marathon’. “I said to him, ‘You’ll never do a marathon’. He said, ‘At least I can walk’. “He said he was doing the marathon for Peter and for our mother who died of cancer 11 years ago. “Kevin has been a rock for us. I was 14 when he was born and I used to look after him. Now it’s the other way round.”
Deirdre added: “People often say to me you’re very strong. I get strength from the meetings we go to with cancer groups as a family. “The cancer support groups have been unbelievable - all of them. It’s impossible to single one out as they’ve all been so brilliant to us.” With Kevin’s marathon efforts providing a focus, the family intend to keep on fundraising for local cancer organisations.
Window Cleaners Daughter: Girl bounces back from being hit by car. A simple knock at the door changed Lori Crandall’s life forever. Lori cries a couple times a day when she watches her daughters from across the room. She’s also quick to say that she loves her daughters Lilly and Anna more than she has at any other point in her life. And it’s not just today, on Thanksgiving Day, that Mike and Lori Crandall will gather with their family to give thanks. For the Crandalls, every day since May 10, 2011, has been Thanksgiving day. May 10. That’s the day Mike and Lori Crandall reaffirmed their faith in angels. How else could two parents explain how their little nine-year-old daughter survived a tragic car accident after getting off the school bus and crossing a busy Highway 95 to get the mail.
It was normal for Lori Crandall to hear the school bus drop off her daughter at home after school each day. On a normal day, Lilly would go get the mail and the Crandalls’ dogs would meet Lilly halfway. But Tuesday, May 10 was no ordinary day. Lori heard the bus drop off Lilly and the dogs ran down the driveway. But out of routine was a knock on the front door of the Crandall home. An 18-year-old female was standing at the door. Her message: She had just hit Lilly with her car. “I took off down the driveway,” Lori Crandall recalled. She hadn’t run in a long time and her legs were starting to hurt as she got halfway down the driveway. But nothing was going to stop her. She had to get to the side of her daughter.
When Lori Crandall arrived at the end of her driveway and onto Highway 95, she recalls seeing traffic backed up as far as she had ever seen to the east towards Cambridge. The scene was chaotic as she saw a number of people taking care of Lilly. Mike, a window-cleaning contractor in Anoka, got word of Lilly’s accident through a receptionist at his company. "Nothing can prepare you for that call,” Mike Crandall said. “You don’t ever want that call,” he said. He looked at his phone and saw a number of voice messages. One featured Lilly screaming in the background. “When I picked up the phone, the severity of the situation wasn’t registering. All I remember thinking was, ‘Not my Lilly.’,” he said.
Mike Crandall embarked on the longest 45-minute ride from Anoka to Princeton that any one could image. He was really out of the loop on what the situation was back home and a million ideas were going through his mind as he made his way north up Highway 47. “On the ride home I was yelling and screaming. I was definitely in a different state of mind.” When Mike arrived home, the accident scene was cleared for the most part and Lilly was on her way by helicopter to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale. Mike was greeted by stories of strangers who stepped up in the role of heroes to help save his daughter that day. The experience reaffirmed both Lori and Mike’s belief in angels. “We’re so grateful that so many people helped us out,” Mike said.
That includes the people at the accident scene, educators and friends who visited Lilly during her week-long hospital stay, the friends and coworkers who built a wheelchair ramp at the Crandall home and all those who lent a helping hand at benefits held in Princeton and Milaca. “The outpouring of support was phenomenal and unexpected,” Mike Crandall said. At the end of the day, Lilly was a very lucky young girl. The impact of the crash threw Lilly about 160 feet, according to crash reconstruction reports. She went up in the air and landed on the hood of the car before coming to rest on Highway 95.
Lilly was in a full leg cast and spent her summer vacation in a wheelchair after suffering a broken femur and broken tibia. She also suffered a chipped bone in her elbow and a serious cut to her ear that required four stitches to close. She also suffered severe road rash from head to toes. Six months later Lilly has recovered from the accident quite well. But the scars of the accident have not faded. Physically, Lilly has a slight limp when she runs, suffers from an occasional headache and during Christmas break will have a plate and several screws removed from her leg.
Emotionally, the accident hits home every day. “I’m reminded every day. When I go out to get the mail I step on an “X” where she was laying on the ground,” Lori Crandall said, referencing painted markings on Highway 95 left behind by the accident recreation. “I’m still happy, mad, and sad all at the same time,” Lori said. “I don’t know how to feel.” But both Mike and Lori Crandall are thankful and are fully aware of the miracle that was bestowed upon their family and the fact that they truly have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. And one thing is clear when you glance at Lilly, take in her infectious smile and realize that she has bounced back from what surely could have been a tragedy: We should all have a little faith in angels, because you never know where they might be.