Officer David Rigney touched many lives
By Shaun Tilghman
News Editor – North Manchester News-Journal
Just over a week has passed since the accident that claimed the life of North Manchester Police Officer David Rigney, and in the wake of tragedy, communities across Wabash County have joined together not only in mourning the loss, but also in celebrating his life.
The 39-year-old LaFontaine native was off-duty when the crash occurred last Monday afternoon. Rigney was heading south on State Road 15 when his SUV fishtailed and crossed into the northbound lane, where it was struck by a school bus, before returning to the southbound lane and being struck by another vehicle – he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sgt. Brian Enyeart, a veteran of the North Manchester Police Department, said the loss was devastating on many different levels.
“People outside of law enforcement don’t understand the bond that law enforcement officers have – it’s more than just as coworkers or even friends, we truly are ‘brothers in blue’,” Enyeart said. “There is a lot of stuff that is easier to talk about with other officers than with other people, because they just don’t understand. With Dave, you always knew if you needed anything you could call him and he would be there to help you out.”
by Gary Andrews
Not only did the Wabash Lady Apache basketball team open their 2014-15 season with an impressive 60-44 win over Mississinewa Friday; they got to be part of history as senior Claire Cromer went off for 42 points to set the Wabash single game scoring record.
The Lady Apaches dominated right from the start, jumping out to an 11-0 lead and leading 14-4 after the end of the quarter. Claire Cromer had all 14 points for Wabash.
Mississinewa would cut the Wabash lead to 16-10 early in the second quarter before Shelby Stone buried two shots from behind the arch to build the lead to 22-10. The Indians again cut the lead to single digits before Cromer drained back-to-back three’s, then hit four straight free throws to increase the lead to 31-18. At 31-22 Cromer would hit a shot before the buzzer as Wabash led 33-22 at the half.
Kristin Cromer and Sarah Puckett would get in on the scoring action in the third while Claire Cromer kept rolling as the Lady Apaches built their lead to 45-25 before leading 45-26 after three.
Claire Cromer would hit a three to get the Wabash scoring going in the fourth as sister Kristin hit two free throws as Wabash rolled to a 60-44 win.
Claire Cromer led the way with 42 points. Shelby Stone and Kristin Cromer added 6 points each, Sarah Puckett 4, Katie McCauley 2.
By Bill Barrows
Periodically, I have the privilege to witness heartwarming and amazing things that happen in the course of my daily activities in youth sports at the Wabash County YMCA. This week, I watched as a young man took a huge step forward on a long road back to regaining his health.
Jace Randel’s parents, Jason and Amanda, registered him to play 4th & 5th grade tackle football in August. Jace expected to play with a number of his classmates on the Cowboys team this fall while learning some life lessons along the way. He had no idea the roller coaster ride he had in front of him.
”On Aug. 20 (ironically, the same day as the first football practice) Jace began not feeling well. I took him in to his pediatrician after a few days of stomach pain. He ordered blood work, just to be sure it wasn’t an appendicitis. The blood work came back abnormal,” explained Amanda.
After consulting with their pediatrician, the Randels prepared for a trip to Riley Hospital.
“The Pediatrician explained to us that Jace's blood work had come back abnormal, and after consulting with a few Riley Oncologists, they thought Jace had leukemia.” Amanda continued, “We were being sent to Riley to run more blood work and prepare him for a bone marrow biopsy.” Jason & Amanda told their son what this meant; Jace was crushed.
“I told him that we were NOT putting our faith and trust into one test. We would be putting our faith in God who, we KNEW, could do anything!!” She explained, “What a calming affect that can have on a person, to know WHO is in control and WHO is all powerful,”
The blood work at Riley came back inconclusive. Jace received a platelets transfusion in order to perform the biopsy to prevent excessive bleeding. He had an allergic reaction to the platelet transfusion. Instantly, he began to break out in hives and his throat started swelling. After giving him large doses of Benadryl, he was finally able to sleep. The biopsy came back negative. Several other tests were run, for conditions such as; mono, autoimmune markers, and vitamin deficiencies, and all came back normal. Normal was a relative term. Jace wasn’t getting any worse, but was also wasn’t getting any better either.
by Gary Andrews
The Southwood VolleyKnights had one last game scheduled for the year Saturday and it was the state championship. The Lady Knights had won nine straight games to win the sectional, then defeated Clinton Central 3-0 for the regional title. Last Saturday Southwood won the very tough Bremen semi state by topping Adams Central 3-1 and Hammond Bishop Noll 3-2 for the semi state title. Saturday at Ball State the VolleyKnights had the task of taking on defending state champion Providence for the state title.
Southwood, the 2A public school state champion hung tough, but the power hitting of Providence ended up being too much as the VolleyKnights fell 17-25, 14-25, 18-25.
Providence got off to a 10-3 start in game one before the Knights shook off the championship jitters and started to go to work. Emilie Harnish would get a kill and Bailey Lundmark a block during a 5-0 run to close the gap to 10-8. Providence would then score 10 of the next 14 points to open a 24-15 lead before two Sami White tips kept the game alive, but one last Pioneer kill ended game one 17-25.
Southwood jumped out to a 4-0 lead to start game two with Sami White serving. Kaitlyn Murphy had a kill with White scoring on an ace and a tip. Bailey Hobbs would get a kill as the Knights extended their lead to 8-3 before the Pioneer’s got hot. Providence would score 6 of the next 7 points to tie the game at 9 before a White tip and an Emilie Harnish ace made it 11-9. With Southwood up 12-10 the sleeping giant awoke as Providence went on a 10-1 run to grab a 20-13 lead on their way to the 25-14 final.
by Emily Armentrout
When everything that could go wrong does go wrong, some people in this world would shut down, give up and let the bad things take their will to live, but the Parson family are not just some people.
Audrey Hepburn once said, “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It's probably the most important thing in a person.”
This seems to be the mantra the Parson family lives by, loving to laugh and loving each other.
Gary, father and husband, drives truck for a living, while his wife, Sally, works at The Nail Emporium, located at their home in LaFontaine, and their son, Evan, is a senior at Southwood Jr./Sr. High School. From the outside the Parsons look like any other family, but it’s the insides that have caused this family struggle for the past 15 years.
Gary was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in 2001. Polycystic kidney disease causes cysts to grow continually inside the kidneys causing five-ounce kidneys to grow, in Gary’s case, to 12 pounds apiece. After being diagnosed in 2001, Gary went into end-stage renal failure a year later, and was put on dialysis.
“Dr. Dominguez, my nephrologist in Indianapolis, was able to control my condition with medicines, which slowed down the disease. Everything I have learned about polycystic disease shows it is more aggressive in males than females,” Gary told The Paper. “It progressed quickly, even with medications, but luckily, I was able to get a transplant.”
Gary was on the transplant list for 17 months after his end-stage diagnosis. After his transplant, Gary had a 10-week recovery period before he had to go back into surgery to remove his kidneys, which had grown to almost 40 times the size of an average kidney. As long as there is blood flow to polycystic kidneys, the cysts will continue to grow. After Gary’s second surgery and 8-10 weeks of recovery, he returned to work in late 2004.
From the time Evan was six months old, the Parson family knew he would be facing surgeries of his own. He was diagnosed with two heart defects, aortic stenosis, which is a narrowing of his arteries, and coarctation of his aorta, which is a narrowing of the area where the blood vessel connecting the pulmonary artery to the proximal descending aorta inserts. The Parson family made biannual trips to Riley Hospital for Children for the first two years of Evan’s life. Doctors kept a close eye on his condition and at two years old, he had a heart catheterization. After this, while the doctors continued to monitor Evan’s condition, he became tired easily.
“He couldn’t gain weight very well. Sometimes it was extremely hard for him to catch his breath,” Sally told The Paper.
By the time Evan was 10 years old, the pulse in his legs and lower extremities had become very faint and he continued to grow more tired every day. In April 2007, Evan had his first stint placed, and in June of the same year, Evan went in for open-heart surgery at the age of 11. The doctors found the stenosis was worse than they originally thought, describing it as a thick rubber band wrapped tightly around Evan’s main artery. Thankfully, as Evan is nearing his high school graduation, he has been doing well.
“Evan will have to have another stint put in when he is done growing,” said Sally. “And he’ll have yearly checkups for the rest of his life.”
With Gary’s first surgery in 2004 and Evan’s surgery in 2007, the Parson family had been through enough to last them a lifetime, but life wasn’t done throwing them curveballs just yet. In 2006, before Evan’s surgery, Sally was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that took her mother’s life.
Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease of the lungs, where tissue is damaged, causing it to thicken, which does not allow the lungs to work properly, making it increasingly harder to breathe as the disease worsens. “In the beginning, the doctors told me it was a slow disease, where your lungs actually turn hard. They said I would probably die of something else because the disease worked so slowly,” said Sally.
“She degenerated extremely fast. One week, she would be in the yard working and the next, she couldn’t walk across the yard without help. She just couldn’t breathe,” added Evan.
Sally’s disease progressed much faster than the doctors anticipated. Breathing became a struggle in 2008, which caused her need for oxygen tanks all throughout 2009. Just walking the 25 yards from the house to her nail shop was a task she could no longer accomplish without the help of her husband or son and an oxygen tank. Even though that was a serious situation for the family, they constantly interjected humor.
“We used to grab her oxygen tubes and act like we were going to cut them. It was a science lab in here, tubes and tanks everywhere,” Evan told The Paper.
Sally was placed on the transplant list, but the normal wait is 18 months. Sally did not believe she had 18 months left. After being listed in May, the Parson family got the call they thought was 18 months away. In August 2009, they received a call that there were lungs waiting for Sally.
“We got down to the hospital and got prepped. They had collected the lungs and were getting ready to roll me out of my room when Gary got another call. The way he hung up the phone, followed by the nurse coming in, I knew the lungs were bad,” said Sally. “Evan was a mess. He kept asking why God did this when he’s supposed to be good, but a nurse took him aside and told him ‘God is watching out for your mom because if we had given her those lungs, she wouldn’t be here,” added Sally.
The Parson family went home, heartbroken and exhausted. They went back into their normal routines. Sally went back to work and Evan went back to school. Gary went back to work one day, with horrible stomach pains, only to find out that he was due for another surgery. Gary had to have his gallbladder removed, immediately.
“I’m struggling for every breath, thinking ‘it’s my turn to get fixed’ and there he is, having another surgery,” Sally told The Paper.
Sally believes that surgery was meant to happen exactly when it did, because when it was her turn, Gary and Evan were going to have to be well to take care of her.
“I’m healing. We need 15 to 20 oxygen tanks to get Sally through the day, and Evan is taking care of both of us,” added Gary.
Finally, Sally’s miracle came, but not until she had reached what she believed was her limit.
“We were sitting right here in the living room. She was crying and I was crying. She started telling me where the insurance papers were. She said ‘I’m not going to be here in two weeks.” recalls Gary.
A couple hours later, the transplant team called. On their way down, Gary called the authorities to see about getting an escort because the viability of lungs is not as long as other organs. They cannot stay on ice or pumps as long as other organs can. The authorities informed Gary that they do not offer escorts and that should they catch him traveling over the speed limit, they would ticket him. The Parson family continued down to Indianapolis on their own, no escort and miraculously, no traffic.
“By the time I had parked the car and got into the waiting room after dropping Sally and Evan off at the door, she was already deep into surgery,” added Gary.
After the almost-five-hour surgery, the doctor informed Gary and Evan that the surgery was successful. Gary asked, because Sally would want to know, how bad the lungs were and how much time she would have had. Her doctor told Gary she would not have survived another week.
The Parson family had been living a normal life since 2009. Evan was working through high school and Sally was back at work, as was Gary, until May 5, 2012. Gary was in an automobile accident within miles from his home. The other driver was not seriously injured, nor was Gary, or at least, they didn’t think he had been seriously injured.
The trauma from the accident caused Gary’s kidney to go into chronic rejection. After his blood pressure became so erratic he once passed out, the family knew that something wrong. This rejection started to show itself slowly by showing up as scar tissue in later biopsies. Rejection meant that Gary would once again be placed on dialysis and would eventually need another transplant.
Gary hopes to have his second transplant sometime this summer. Though he is currently on the donor list, he already has a living donor, which happens to be a family friend just willing to donate.
“When Gary was in the hospital, I had told him, and he came to the hospital and said that if he was a match he would like to donate,” Sally told The Paper.
The Parson family tries to look at their situation with as much humor and love for each other as they can. Though their situation looked dire at times, and they thought they were losing faith, they always try to make light of things whenever they can.
“With everything that has gone on and everything that has happened, you lose a lot of faith, because you wonder what else can go wrong. You just can’t seem to catch a break. It seems like on the home stretch, there’s an accident, right before the finish line,” said Evan.
The family realizes that you can only hold so much in. They admit they have spent a lot of time crying, but their focus is to end it with a laugh.
“After everything we’ve had to go through, we’ve cried enough. You understand that relieves a lot of stress, but if I am going to sit here and cry about it, I’m not doing anything to help. When I could take the opportunity to make mom and dad laugh, make their day a little brighter, and at least ease the suffering for that little bit of time, I’m going to,” added Evan.
Humor is their coping mechanism.
“It’s so easy today to become depressed about the littlest of things, so we take that as a challenge to stay positive,” said Evan.
“If we got so drudged down, we’d never get anything done. For all that’s happened and all that is going to happen, we’ve got to laugh,” added Gary with a laugh.
Gary, Sally and Evan also try to use their experiences as a teaching tool for others.
“So often people don’t know they can be a living kidney donor. They don’t know anything about it,” Gary told The Paper. “They don’t know you can save someone’s life like that.”
If you are interested in learning more information about becoming a living donor, you can visit www.kidney.org.