Last year, the Lost Plantation community helped one of its own, cancer patient Ashley Toler, through the proceeds from its first Light the Night Golf Cart Parade.
This year’s parade benefitted someone they didn’t even know.
Organizers dedicated Saturday night’s second annual Light the Night Parade to Donna Reardon, who has been undergoing treatment since being diagnosed with cancer in June.
“I’m overwhelmed. I’m humbled … Words can’t express what I’m feeling right now,” Reardon said. “They don’t know me, I don’t live in this subdivision, and they just came together and did this fundraiser for me and my family.”
Added her husband Brian: “This is overwhelming because you have your core group of people that you see day-in and day-out, and there’s a couple people here that we actually know, but the majority of people we’ve never met. To see people you don’t know or have no interaction with come together to try to help somebody, it means a lot.”
The parade organizers offered to assist another Lost Plantation neighbor with this year’s parade, but when no one came forward needing help, the offer was extended to the community. One of the organizers, Melissa Capwell, learned of the Reardons’ plight through a mutual friend.
“I wasn’t sure how the turnout would be this year because it wasn’t somebody in the neighborhood,” Capwell said, “but, because the county is so close-knit, I think it doesn’t really matter. I think everyone would just give regardless.”
Adorned with lights and decorations, about 40 golf carts — roughly the same number as last year, Capwell said — wound through Lost Plantation on Saturday night. Each participating family paid a $25 entry fee toward the cause.
Funds were also raised through a silent auction, 50/50 raffle, bake sale and crafts fair prior to the golf cart parade, and some Lost Plantation residents were not in the parade but still donated money. In all, the community raised about $3,500 for the Reardon family, according to Capwell.
“It’s really amazing,” Capwell said of the turnout. “I’m blessed enough to have my health and my kids are healthy, and it just touches my heart to give back to somebody who’s having some hard times.”
Those hard times for the Reardon family began over the summer. Donna learned a week before her 40th birthday that she had cancer.
“Happy 40th birthday,” she said facetiously.
It was shocking news for Donna, Brian and their three children, ages 14, 11 and 8. Donna said even her doctors were surprised, as they found she had a rare type of cancer for an otherwise healthy 39-year-old.
“It knocked everybody for a loop,” Donna said.
Unfortunately, Donna’s ordeal was just beginning. She immediately began radiation and chemotherapy, then she had surgery to remove the cancerous tumor in October.
While the surgery appears to have removed the entire original tumor, Donna said the cancer spread to spots on her liver and lungs. Several weeks of recovery followed the surgery, enabling her blood levels to return to a high enough level to resume chemotherapy.
She is currently one month into a three-month round of chemotherapy. Along with taking “three different types of drugs,” Donna said she goes to the hospital every other Tuesday for treatment.
“They pump me full of chemo for three to five hours, and then I come home with the (chemotherapy) pump,” she said.
Along with the family’s mounting medical bills, Donna’s illness forced her to stop working as a property researcher. While Brian maintains his job at Gulfstream, Donna’s doctors told her she is too weak to make her daily commute and put on a work day.
“I have never felt so tired,” Donna said. “I’m used to going, going, going, and I’m just tired now.”
Despite all the challenges, the Reardons remain optimistic. Following this three-month round of chemotherapy, doctors will conduct tests to determine their next course of action.
“I’m hopeful,” Donna said. “I’m hopeful that (the treatment) is going to do the trick. And most of all, I have my faith in God.”