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Local woman celebrates 100th birthday with special balloon releaseSubmitted: 07/05/2013
Story By Lauren Stephenson


WAUSAU - One Wausau nursing home pulls out all the stops for one woman's very special birthday.

"I can remember many years ago, when she was around in her forties, she says, ‘Don, I'm not going to live long.' And I say, ‘Mom, I will be at your 100th birthday party'" recalls Donald Koy, Martha Koy's son.

Friday was a special day for Martha and her family. She turned 100. But Martha's age isn't what brought her friends and caretakers at the Mount View Care Center together: it was Martha herself.

"She's just always been full of life and spunk, and pizazz, and always has to dress nice, and always has to have her coffee right away in the morning," says Erika Degroot, one of Martha's caretakers.

Martha may be queen for the day. But Erika Degroot and other caretakers say she reigns supreme everyday.

"She's always making sure we're okay. I mean, this woman's 100 years old and has totally earned the right for us to just care for her and she still cares for us, and pats us on the arm, and pats us on the back, and are you okay, and why don't you sit down and have coffee with me, or you're working too hard," says Erika.

Donald Koy told the staff he wanted to throw his mother a birthday party. The staff jumped right in to help plan. This made the celebration extra special.

"Many residents, you know, I'm sure they don't like to be in a nursing home. My mother loves it," Koy says.

Martha and her partygoers released 100 balloons in honor of Martha's twin sister, Monica, who was also a resident at Mount View Care Center. She died 3 years ago.

"We wanted Martha to have a way to honor her twin. So we thought, 'Why don't we do a balloon release and let Martha release a couple of balloons for her sister? And then we're like, 'You know what? She's 100. Let's get a hundred balloons and let everybody put balloons out' because we all knew Monica as well, and the whole family's here," Degroot adds.

One hundred balloons for one hundred years. The secret to making every one of those years count is simple.

"Just go along [with it]," says Martha.

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According to the Vilas County Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin State Patrol, it happened around 3:30 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. Highway 51 and County Highway H.

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"There was injury," said Boulder Junction Fire Chief Matthew Reuss. "The two passengers in the van had to be extricated. One was taken to Howard Young Medical Center for further care. The driver of the semi was uninjured and the second passenger in the van was pronounced dead at the scene."

According to Wisconsin State Patrol, the driver of the van is a 68-year-old woman from Colby. Crews later took her to St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield for non-life threatening injuries. Her passenger, a 77-year-old male from Colby, died in the crash. They were both wearing seatbelts. 

The driver of the semi is 63 years old and from South Range. 

Traffic was rerouted through Boulder Junction for several hours and was reopened shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Several units responded to the scene.

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State Patrol and the Vilas County Sheriff's Office will investigate the crash.

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