As he prayed prior to the ninth annual Anna’s Army Day Walk in uptown Hillsboro Friday, local minister Jeff Lyle thanked Anna’s parents, Justin and Andi Reno, for their courage to continue the battle against cystic fibrosis that took their 8-year-old daughter’s life in 2008.
But when Andi Reno took the microphone shortly thereafter to say a few words about what the day means to her and her family, she offered a more humble perspective.
“Anna left us here to go to her forever home eight years ago,” Andi said, adding that since its inception Anna’s Army has raised $188,000 to fight cystic fibrosis “… I applaud all of you. It isn’t us that makes this possible, it is you. It isn’t because of us that this happens, it’s because you give us a reason to keep going. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Then as emotion started to tug at her a bit, she added, “Sometimes it’s really, really hard to go out, and you have bad days, but because of you those bad days are bearable and I thank you very, very much.”
In an usual twist, the weather cooperated this year, but the crowd was down. Still, Andi said, the loads of calls she received all week from people wanting to make donations or help in some way was amazing.
The event ran from 3-7 p.m. and included the annual march around uptown Hillsboro in Anna’s honor. There were bounce houses for the kids, live music, food, Anna’s Army merchandise for sale, classic cars on display and more.
Part of the merchandise for sale included new navy blue Anna’s Army shirts. The Renos were donating part of the proceeds from the sale of each blue shirts to local residents Amanda and Jeremy Carter, because Amanda is battling stage four colon cancer.
Andi said that as of late Friday afternoon $1,300 had been raised for the Carters, and that Anna’s Army would be cutting a check for the Carters later Friday night.
“It’s been amazing. I didn’t even know about it until a couple weeks ago,” Amanda Carter said in describing how she feels about the Reno’s generosity. “Every little bit helps.”
Jeremy Carter said, “It’s overwhelming. I’m speechless. There are not enough words to say. Overwhelming is probably the right word. As cruel as people perceive the world today, things like this show there’s still good people out there. We’re very thankful. We have a good community, that’s for sure.”
Shirts for both causes can still be purchased by visiting the Anna’s Army Facebook page.
Anna’s Army Day is held the third Friday of each April.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.