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Fennville Celebrates Life and Positive Community
Posted: Mar 12, 2012

Photo caption: Maria Flores and Jocelyn Leonard make their final AED presentation at the Red Out event in January.  At the standing ovation in memory of Wes, Jocelyn leans on Maria Flores for emotional support.  Photo by Annie Swier
Photo caption: Maria Flores and Jocelyn Leonard make their final AED presentation at the Red Out event in January. At the standing ovation in memory of Wes, Jocelyn leans on Maria Flores for emotional support. Photo by Annie Swier

Although winter tends to be a quieter time in the area, Fennville residents are finding ways to celebrate life and contribute positively to the community.  The Chamber of Commerce recently held it’s Annual Member Banquet last month, awarding Salt of the Earth American Rustic Eatery the Business of the Year Award, and awarding Al LaShell the Robert Hutchinson Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award.  The annual Chamber of Commerce Membership Drive happens every February, and applications are still being accepted.  By joining the Chamber of Commerce, area businesses benefit from a variety of networking opportunities, including utilizing the Chamber’s website.  For more information, please e-mail treasurer@greaterfennville.com, or visit www.greaterfennville.com.

Almost a year after the tragic passing of Wes Leonard, the Fennville community still feels the loss.  Members of the community gathered Friday, February 10 before the varsity basketball game to honor Wes’ life.  Gathered with his family, coaches and teammates, Wes’ number was raised to the ceiling and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Of the event, Julie Cossey said, “The gym was packed for the Hall of Fame Induction.  The atmosphere in the gym was that of respect, honor, sadness, and pride. [There were] mixed emotions for sure, and a standing ovation for several minutes.”

In his memory, the Wes Leonard Heart Team was formed with the goal to “Honor the children who have lost their lives to Sudden Cardiac Arrest and prevent other families and friends from feeling the pain of losing their loved ones.” By raising money to purchase and donate AEDs, the Heart Team hopes to equip as many youth-program sites with these devices.

Maria Flores, a Fennville native and FHS graduate, is one of the members of the Heart Team.  The loss of Wes hit a bit closer to Flores, as her son and Wesley were close friends.  “Maria was one of those people who treated our son like we wanted people to treat him; no special treatment, help around her house if he was sponging off a dinner or snacks, and giving him life advice when he was confiding about his life to her.  We trusted her completely with our son, and she always took his keys when he stayed the night.  Our motto about each other’s sons were  “we may love you, but we don’t trust you”.   I loved that she cared that much about him.” Said Jocelyn Leonard. Aside from her own family and life, Flores dedicates her time and efforts to help Wes’ family and other Heart Team members.  “Maria has devoted many, many hours to the Wes Leonard Heart Team.  She keeps everything on track, runs errands for Jocelyn, has had to learn so many things about running a non-profit, and is at Jocelyn’s side at every event,” said community member Erica Ramos.  The Fennville community and the Wes Leonard Heart Team are very fortunate to have such a willing and dedicated person as a part of their team.

Since the formation of the Wes Leonard Heart Team, the group has placed 30 AEDs and gyms and 18 are on a waiting list.  “The advocacy we want is for all schools to be required to have an AED in their school and to have Medical Emergency Response Team drills in their schools at least twice a  year. “ says Leonard.  For more information, please visit www.wesleonardheartteam.org.

 


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