Forward by Hannah Lipman
It was 1996 when I moved to Bethel with my 3-year-old son, dog, and two gerbils. I was immediately taken in by Bethel’s quaint feel, charming downtown, and friendly people. The local coffee shop at the time was Dr. Javas (until recently, O’Neil’s) and I was a regular every morning. I couldn’t help but notice a jar on the counter by the register, with a photo of a curly-headed blond-haired, blue eyed, beautiful boy, most likely my son’s age. The boy’s name was Scotty. He was sick and there was a collection jar in this coffee shop and many other local businesses to help Scott’s family as they navigated through this unthinkable situation.
Scotty passed away shortly after we arrived in Bethel. Over the years, I watched his family build a living, breathing foundation–The SCOTTY Fund–which sponsors an annual Town Picnic and a year- end gala raising funds to help families undergoing struggles similar to what the Anderson family experienced. They took unimaginable pain and infused it with love for our community by giving back.
In creating The Bethel Grapevine, I couldn’t think of a better example of what demonstrates our community than The SCOTTY Fund and the Anderson family. I initially was going to interview the family, but realized no one can put their story into words better than they can. So, without further ado, here is their story, as told by Scotty’s sister, Emma.
I was 5 years old when my brother Scott passed away from a rare form of cancer in 1996. Because I was so young, I don’t really remember much, but the memories that I do have are very special ones. I have so many happy memories of having fun, running around, riding bikes with my 2 brothers, and living what seemed to be a normal childhood. But in reality, not much was normal at all.
During the time when Scott was sick, my parents had the challenge of balancing taking care of Scott in the hospital and being at home with my older brother Grant and me. I remember my mom would spend a lot of time in the hospital with Scott, which left Grant and me home with my dad. This required my dad to do many of the roles that Mom was just always better at- doing hair, picking out clothes, and singing bedtime songs. I became very familiar with the words of “Joy to the World” (or as I called it- “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog”) and “American Pie” by the age of 5 thanks to my dad’s bedtime singing routine.
My parents, and so many other friends and family always made sure that Grant and I had everything we needed during a time when our family had been flipped upside down. So many different people helped out by watching me and my brother, driving us to school, and having us over for playdates. Looking back, we always had people there, going above and beyond to take care of us.
It is amazing how the community of Bethel came together to help our family. Not only did people hold fundraisers to raise money for Scott’s treatment, but people went out of their way to help our entire family. Often, complete strangers would show up at our house with meals. Somebody also donated tickets to the St. Mary Carnival so that Grant and I could go have fun for a night. I later found out that this was my now father-in-law that did this. It’s funny how things like that work out in a small town.
We also had somebody volunteer to babysit for us. She didn’t know who we were but knew our story. She showed up at our door and offered to take care of me and my brothers whenever my parents needed help. All of these people from the community that stepped up to help us are still part of my family today.
So many people displayed acts of kindness and compassion for our family during this time. I truly believe that our community of Bethel is built that way. As a community, we help when others are in need, no questions asked. Every single thing that somebody did during this difficult time made a huge impact on my childhood, and although I may not have realized it then, it made a huge impact on who I am as a person today.
After my brother passed away in 1996, my parents started The SCOTTY Fund. They took a tragic event that no parent should have to experience, and turned it into something so positive. My parents showed incredible strength, kindness, and selflessness. In the past 24 years, the SCOTTY fund has given out over 1.75 million dollars.
The SCOTTY Fund supports families with children with life threatening illnesses. We offer financial support for medical bills, travel, and household expenses so parents can focus on their family and not worry about the bills. We also help the families in other ways that ease the stress. We buy and wrap Christmas gifts, the community makes meals, and we find different ways throughout the year to deliver special treats to bring quality of life to the ill child and family. As a community, we have made thousands of meals and helped hundreds of families. The SCOTTY Fund is run 100% by volunteers, and 100% of the money raised goes directly to helping families in need.
At such a young age, I very quickly learned about tremendous loss, but because of the actions of the community and my parents, I also very quickly learned about the power of compassion and unconditional giving. I consider myself lucky to have grown up with The SCOTTY Fund being an essential part of my childhood. I am so thankful for my parents for teaching me the value and importance of helping others and I hope to teach my children the same.
This year, we celebrate 24 years of The SCOTTY Fund. We celebrate 24 years of our community coming together to help each other in times of need. Because of the pandemic, we are not able to host our annual picnic this year, and we are moving our winter gala to a virtual gala. We hope you will join us on December 5th for our virtual gala. Learn more at Scottyfundgala.com. Thank you for your continued support!