I stopped by the library to return some books last Sunday evening. I could not believe what I saw. It was worse than heartbreaking to see little Ashley Frank's memorial bench smashed by someone who was devastatingly oblivious to the impact that could have on the family.
This family has been through more than enough tragedy. It is so ironic that, when I saw the broken bench, I had just returned from Phoenix where Ashley's parents, Tracy and Frank Allen, along with her three brothers are facing yet another battle with cancer.
Ashley's dad was and still is in the hospital fighting high fevers after his second round of chemotherapy. Frank has recently been diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma, a very aggressive form of non Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The family's courage and strength is again being challenged. I didn't know how to tell Tracy, just before Mother's Day, what had happened to her precious daughter's memorial. Today Terry Morris, the library director, showed me the Roundup's sensitive articles about what happened. Terry also told me that a wonderful young artist, Shane Owens, is replacing the bench for the library.
As you can imagine, every bit of Tracy's energy is invested in trying to be strong for her family right now. I didn't want her to hear from strangers about this new horror of her daughter's memorial. I had no idea how to break the news to her. The Roundup article and Shane's incredible gift of love gave me the strength I needed to tell her.
When bad things happen, it seems to bring out the best in the good people of Payson. So, today I told Tracy about what happened. She has been spending every moment with her husband in the hospital, while taking care of their three sons. Tracy just said that she was all out of tears, but she did want you all to know that she is grateful for the way Payson has continued to respect her daughter's memory. Then I got this brilliant idea.
The Roundup rallied support for the Allen family two years ago. The community came through for them when five-year-old Ashley was battling a brain tumor. Although that precious little girl lost her battle, maybe there could be some good that can come out of this terrible destructive act of vandalism.
The timing of the smashing of Ashley's bench couldn't be more significant as the family faces yet another new struggle with cancer. Their medical bills are staggering. So, I'm going to be really bold here and ask you all, as a community, for your help. Any donations would be appreciated for this family. If you want to directly deposit into the Allen's account at Wells Fargo Bank, the account number is 0484561022. Finally, I believe that the power of prayer is the most healing gift we can give. So, I invite you to pray with me for this family.
Kathleen Kelly, Payson