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

Parade float brings transplant recipients together
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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 IN OTHER NEWS

MINOCQUA -
You can help the Oneida County Dive Team by grabbing your goggles and swim cap Saturday (June 23) morning.

Swimmers will launch from Torpy Park for the Minocqua Island Swim Challenge.

The race is one mile long, but people can choose to swim just 400 meters, too.

The water temperature will be about 65 degrees during the race.

"A lot of people will wear wet suits and be very comfortable. I have seen plenty of people go without and have no trouble," says Laura Fuhrman.

Money raised from the race will go to Oneida County's dive team.

They are first responders to water rescue calls.

"We just got our dark vision gear last year through fundraisers like this. It helps us be more efficient and safe," says Assistant Dive Team Leader, Michael Fraley.

You still have time to register in person Friday night from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Torpy Park.

Click below for more info.

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CHIPPEWA FALLS - A World War II veteran who spent more than a year as a prisoner of war is finally being awarded the Purple Heart.

The Leader-Telegram reports that 94-year-old Max Bergen will receive the medal Friday. The Wisconsin man says he's overwhelmed and stunned by the honor.

Bergen was serving on a bomb squadron when he was shot down over Germany in 1944. He was held prisoner at a camp in Austria for 14 months.

Bergen suffered shoulder and ankle wounds in the crash, but he had no paperwork about the injuries because he was immediately taken prisoner. Such documentation is needed for the medal that honors troops injured in combat.

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MADISON - High school students from Parkland, Florida., visit Wisconsin to advocate for stricter gun control laws and to register young people to vote.

The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are making three stops in Wisconsin as part of a nationwide March for Our Lives: Road to Change tour. They plan to hold events Friday in Janesville and Madison and on Saturday in Milwaukee.

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MADISON - The second Democrat in as many days has dropped out of the race for governor.

State Representative Dana Wachs, of Eau Claire, announced Friday that he is ending his campaign and endorsing Tony Evers.

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MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has issued a warning about synthetic marijuana products that have recently sent multiple people to the hospital with severe bleeding.

The state has had seven confirmed hospitalizations caused by the use of the synthetic drug since March.


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HOUGHTON - River Valley Bank will accept donations for flood victims in Houghton and the surrounding area. 

Anyone can make a donation online or in person at a River Valley Bank. 

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RHINELANDER - Rhinelander's new mayor wants to turn his city into "the best city in America."  It's tough to quantify or gauge that ambitious goal, but Chris Frederickson thinks a curbside appeal project could be a great first step and it's all about using people's desire to compete.

Frederickson launched his Civic Pride Curbside Appeal Contest this week.  The mayor will find 10 homeowners along River Street -- one of the busier streets in town -- willing to have their lawns groomed, primped, and prettied for free.  Homeowners need to sign an easement agreement with the city to allow the work and contest to happen on their properties.

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