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Thursday, Aug 28, 2014
Michelle Bearden

Grandma, Marine offer wishes in letters

Published:

This year, Mason Dixon’s Christmas Wish Fund will receive hundreds of requests from families in need. Starting Dec. 8 and through the holidays, The Tampa Tribune will run some of those letters in the Sunday Baylife section along with a reminder of how to help.

Here are two of the many requests the charity already has received:

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To the Mason Dixon Christmas Wish Fund:

I am writing to ask that you would add my two grandkids to your list. We have been raising for them for several years and have legal custody of them.

I have been diagnosed with leukemia and I am currently taken to treatment once a week. I am to go to Moffitt Cancer Center in December to have my spleen removed, and I will be out of work for six weeks without pay.

I have never asked anyone for anything since we got our grandkids, but it breaks my heart that they will be doing without anything for Christmas. I told them to pick one big thing they would really like to have and I would do my best to see if I could get it for them. But due to my situation, I cannot afford anything. I am the only one working right now, so if there is any way possible to help them, I would be grateful.

My main concern right now is putting food on the table, which I’m really not sure how I’m going manage with no pay.

Please do not feel sorry for me; this is not why I am writing to you. My husband takes me to all my treatments. He is my rock.

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Mason,

Wanted to give you an update in regards to young Ethan.

Please find a photo attached of this brave young man receiving my Marine Corps dress blues. On Nov. 25, Ethan and his mom, Maria, arrived at the Bay Pines Regional Office and were greeted by myself and several co-workers from Loan Guarantee. I was introduced to Ethan and presented him with my dress uniform that I wore over 22 years ago while serving on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Ethan’s face lit up as I told him, “Every Marine needs a set of dress blues.” I sat and had lunch with Ethan and his mom, and while we waited in line for their food, Ethan sat and waited for us at a table. His mom hugged me and cried. She told me that when she was told of what I was going to do, she contacted someone to tailor the uniform to fit young Ethan. She then informed me that she plans on having Ethan buried in the uniform when he passes away from this terrible disease.

I felt faint and dizzy from emotions. I didn’t know what to say, but I thanked her and said it was a true honor to be part of this young man’s life. I recited a verse from the Marine Corps Hymn that she knows well, as she served as an active duty Marine during the Gulf War as well.

“If the Army and the Navy ever look on heaven’s scenes, they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.” Ethan will enter heaven taking a small part of me with him. He will be dressed for the role as he greets all the brave Marines that have gone before him.

I asked young Ethan what he wanted for Christmas. He looked me in the eye and said, “I want a white Christmas.” I once again found myself speechless. There is no white Christmas in Florida and especially in Tampa. I have done much in my life and pulled rabbits out of hats, but I don’t know how I can pull this off.

A dying boy asks for a white Christmas, and an old warrior needs to help this come true.

I was told after our meeting that Ethan had a bad afternoon with seizures and fell very weak. I don’t know how much longer he has with us, but I know for one moment in his life he shined brighter than the biggest star.

Share young Ethan’s story and fight. He gives true meaning to courage and love.

Thank you.

Michael Martin

Department of Veterans Affairs

VA Regional Office

St. Petersburg, FL

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