It is a day of hope, a day to remember a promise, and a day filled with smiles and music.
The 9th annual Anna’s Army Day will be held from 3-7 p.m. Friday in uptown Hillsboro in memory of Anna Reno, who passed away at the age of 8 in 2008 after an long and courageous battle with cystic fibrosis.
It will be held rain or shine.
Anna was the daughter of Hillsboro residents Justin and Andi Reno and her mother said the event continues to be held on the third Friday in April for a number of reasons.
“Well, one is so other children do not have to deal with cystic fibrosis in the future and second, we made a promise that we wouldn’t quit, so we can’t do that,” Andi Reno said.
It will also be a day to help the family of local resident Amanda Carter, who Andi said is battling stage four colon cancer. Andi said there will be a new Anna’s Army shirt for sale and that a portion of the proceeds from every royal blue (the color for colon cancer) one sold during Friday’s event will go to the Carter family.
The day starts at 3 p.m. when bounce houses open for children. There will be food including walking tacos, live acoustic music provided the band A Heart Means More, and possibly games and classic vehicles parked in the uptown area, depending on the weather. At 5 p.m. the national anthem will be recited followed by a prayer and a message from Anna’s parents.
There will be a walk in memory of Anna and in honor of Amanda Carter starting around 5:30 p.m., then a silent auction and 50/50 drawing at 6:15 p.m.
Not long before Anna passed away, Andi said Anna made one of her doctor’s promise that he would never stop researching to find a cure for cystic fibrosis, and she and Justin promise that they would never stop fundraising for the same cause.
“We made a promise to Anna that we were going to help children with CF and although she’s not with us anymore, there’s a lot of sick kids out there that need help and by keeping our promise to Anna we’re doing that,” Justin said during the event two years ago. “Andi told Anna before she passed away that every year – Anna loved this event because it really made her feel special with everything that everyone did in her name – that we would never stop doing what we do as a way to carry on her name and the names off all the others with cystic fibrosis that are still with us.”
Anna’s Army was actually started by her family in 2002 after she was diagnosed with CF. Andi said she is not sure of the exact numbers, but she estimated that since its inception Anna’s Army has raised $180,000 to $185,000 to help in the fight against cystic fibrosis.
Andi said that despite the poor weather that has greeted Anna’s Army Day most years it has been held, it is always nice to see the large crowds that turn out and to know that Anna’s life is still touching other lives.
“It’s always very surprising to see so many people and to know Anna had an impact on that many people,” Andi said. “Those kids that were in her class are getting older and seeing them come out for the walk and the smiles they have when they talk about her – I think Anna would be very pleased with that and the way things are moving along with research and the fight against CF. Things are going really good.”
According to its website, Anna’s Army Anna’s Army is a team of volunteers, family members and friends, working together to help raise awareness and funds for cystic fibrosis through fundraising, Anna’s Army gear sales, and more.
“Anna’s Army, Inc. came about in 2002 when a local Great Strides Walk came to Wilmington, Ohio and we had been given an envelope that talked about a walk that would raise money for the very disease that Anna had, CF!!,” the website says. “We were on that! All we had to do was come up with a team name that would put us on the books! This was our way of making sure we could help Anna and all the others with CF have just what they deserved, a CURE!! Along the way we brought the Great Strides Walk to Hillsboro, Ohio, our hometown, and then three years after having the walk in town the ultimate sacrifice was made for our team, Anna had passed, but not without leaving behind a true legacy of what life, love, and happiness really is.”
In 2009, the Highland County Board of Commissioners proclaimed the third Friday in April to be Anna’s Army Day every year.
“We gather with hundreds and hundreds of our closest community members to remember Anna’s fight, and her will to help others. We gather on the court house lawn right in the center of downtown Hillsboro to celebrate what a difference we have made, and to push harder towards the difference we will make for those battling CF,” the website says. “… We have a motto that we go by and it continues to be what we stand by while battling this disease and all the ups and downs CF has on a daily basis – Together Anything Is Possible – because it truly is possible when we are all working towards the same goal. Anna called it a roller coaster, a roller coaster of good and bad, where on one big hill was so much joy, then just around the bend and flashing down the next hill was the fight of your life!!”
Anna’s Army Day will close down around 7 p.m.
“Just come out, and remember it’s rain or shine,” Andi said Tuesday. “The more support we can show for the fight against cystic fibrosis, the more we can help with things like what the Carter family is going through.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.