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Parade float brings transplant recipients togetherSubmitted: 07/02/2013
Story By Lex Gray


RHINELANDER - "Last year in early May, she woke up very ill after a weekend of birthday parties," said Michelle Wolfe. "She woke up, and by that evening, we found out she was in heart failure."

Wolfe found out a few weeks later that her daughter, Lauren, needed a new heart.

On June 27, she got one.

"We do think of that family often, to think about the fact that, in the face of a loss, they chose to give someone else new life," Wolfe said. "To see that life in front of us, that we share every day, is really special."


While most families were celebrating on Independence Day last year, Lauren and her family were in the hospital.

"It was a very emotional summer, and it impacts the whole family," said her grandpa, Tim Helmick.

This summer, they're not in the hospital. But Helmick still remembers all the other families who are waiting for an organ.

"It happened shortly after Lauren had her transplant, and it just popped into my head as something I felt I should do," Helmick said.

Tim is busy building a 4th of July parade float for transplant recipients and their families.

"When you see the impact and the new life it can give to somebody, it's like the ultimate gift of hope," Wolfe said.

Wolfe and Helmick hope people watching the parade will think about becoming a donor.

"There's an online registry that people can go out to sign up and commit their wishes to be a donor, [to] encourage people to think about it and decide whether they want to be an organ donor if that opportunity was ever presented, and to share those wishes with family members," Wolfe said.

To sign up for the organ donor float, call Tim 715-490-1261.

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THREE LAKES - Dozens of people gathered at Three Lakes Watersports to waterski today for the third annual Pass the Handle Day.

This worldwide project was started by two legendary wake-boarders.

People of all ages and levels geared up to ski for free.

One of the boats honks as a skier lands in the water. That's the sound of a successful trip around the lake.

Corey Seemann is one of the instructors at Three Lakes Watersports. He knows how important these moments are for kids.

"It's what makes it special," Seemann said. "Seeing people that have never had the opportunity to come out and kind of live their dream, you know, and see some of the kids just have a blast."

Kids of all different ages came out for an action packed day. Some with more experience than others.

"It's just really fun," said 8-year-old Katie Swendson. "Getting out on the water."

She just learned how to get up on one ski.

For some of the skiers, this was their first time skiing on water.

"Nervous, but once I get up I get excited that I'm up," said 10-year-old Blake Slizwski.

One of the youngest skiers was 6-year-old Jack Westfall.

He went out with only one thing in mind.

"I'm here to water ski to get a puppy," Westfall said.

His sister says they've been trying to get him to ski for a long time and puppy was an incentive to get him out there.

"Little does he know, he's getting a stuffed puppy," said his sister, Anna.
 
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Three Lakes Watersports is open all summer long.

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MERRILL - Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he didn't want to spend too much time at the Republican National Convention last week because he wanted to get back to campaigning in his home state.

The senator from Oshkosh stopped at the Lincoln County Fair on Saturday.

He faces a tight races against former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis). 

Johnson gave a speech on Tuesday in Cleveland about national security, as he is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security.

He seems pleased with the Republican presidential ticket.

"I think it's really complimentary to the skills Donald Trump brings to the table," Johnson said. "You got Donald Trump with the private sector experience. You got Mike Pence with a real record accomplishment both in the House and as the governor of Indiana. I think it's a pretty good pairing."

He said he wouldn't pay too much attention to the speeches at the Democratic National Convention this week.

"They've got their ticket, we've got our ticket," Johnson said. "They'll make a bunch of promises they can't deliver on. And what we're going to focus on is economic growth, strengthen our economy so we can strengthen our military, so we can defeat ISIS and secure our borders." 

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SHAWANO COUNTY - UPDATE 5:13 p.m.--Police say six people, including children, were taken to area hospitals after two sport utility vehicles carrying Boy Scouts crashed in Shawano County.

The accident happened Saturday morning on Highway 29 near Bonduel.

Police say one of the SUVs was towing a trailer with equipment. The driver of that vehicle went off the roadway then overcorrected and lost control. The second SUV hit the first, and both went off the road. The trailer flipped and the second SUV landed partially on top of the first.

Bonduel police Chief Todd Chaney tells the Green Bay Press Gazette that one of the injured, a troop leader, was airlifted to St. Vincent's Hospital in Green Bay with a head injury.

Chaney said he didn't think any of the injuries were life threatening.



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