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Community joins to pray for Ruthie
By ANNA BROWN
Courtney Dean says she and her husband, Jeff, began praying before their daughter Ruthie was born that God would use her for His glory.
Friday morning at 9, people everywhere wearing blue - Ruthie's favorite color - stopped to pray for the 13-year-old Sims Junior High eighth-grader as surgeons removed a brain tumor.
Ruthie's parents posted on Facebook that the tumor was removed and they are awaiting pathology reports. They posted photos of Ruthie sitting up in bed, smiling.
"We honestly could not get through this without the body of Christ which has been so supportive and has carried us through the past several days," Jeff said. "We also cannot thank Union County enough who has been so loving and supportive. The best thing that has happened through all of this, is the Salvation of one of my family members. He said that he has seen God work through these past several days and yesterday he gave his heart to the Lord. We are so grateful that God is being exalted. Even through our fears and doubts, He is working in spite of our shortcomings. Yes this trial is about Ruthie. However it's really all about Him."
Jeff, chaplain at Blue Ridge Hospice, thanked the community.
"Our families are so thankful for everything that you have done and all of the prayers that you have lifted for our sweet baby girl. God's got this and we trust."
At Sims Junior High, students collected money for the Dean family and signed a large banner that reads, "Pray for Ruthie." Principal Eric Childers said he made an announcement on Sept. 18 at the close of the day asking students to bring a dollar each to help the Deans pay for gas or food. The next day, $900 was collected.
After the banner was hung up, Childers announced that the students could write a message on it if they wanted.
"Before I could get it out of my mouth they were lined up," he said.
Across town employees in stores and shops and even Union County Sheriff's Office detectives wore blue Friday. The idea to be blue for Ruthie started with a Facebook post by Christy Scott.
"Courtney told me tonight that she has always called Ruthie 'Ru'," Christy wrote. "Then she said we could do a #Blu4Ru! We want to ask all of our FB friends, and their friends and so on, to wear Blue for Ruthie Dean on Friday, Sept. 22. It's her favorite color. Everyone please post pics of yourself and your friends wearing your blue to support the Dean family with #Blue4Ru."
Hundreds of people posted pictures of themselves and entire office staffs wearing blue.
WBCU Radio has set up a fund at Arthur State Bank to help the Deans with medical expenses. Donations may be made at any Arthur State Bank or at WBCU on 210 West Main St.
Friday, members of the newly formed Union County High School Junior Civitan Club wore blue in honor of Ruthie Dean. Tommy Sinclair with the Union Civitan Club says the junior club has 50 charter members.
"The junior club plans to mirror the adult club and have service projects for students to do," Sinclair said. "Both clubs have decided on a joint fund raising effort to financially assist Ruthie Dean (often called Ru) and her family as they face the challenges ahead of them. This will be the first effort with the newly formed club. The event patterned after the Miracle League effort years ago, of "drive-thru for stew", will be called 'drive-thru stew for Ru.'"
The stew, cooked by Sinclair and "drive thru" will be at Veterans Memorial Park Parking lot on Saturday Oct. 14. The stew can be picked up from noon until 4 p.m that day. Civitan or Junior Civitan members will be selling tickets or you can purchase tickets at Union County Court House with Debbie Foster, YMCA with William Earl Sprouse or Donna McMurray at the Union Times for $8 per quart.
A Caring Bridge site has been set up to help the family with medical expenses. The site gives background on Ruthie's prior medical problems and her current condition.
Ruthie's brain tumor was discovered on Sept 15.
"I've learned this day that your world can change in an instant," Courtney posted on Facebook. "Ruthie has had a headache for the last four days and she vomited this morning at school. Because of her blood disorders we were advised to take her to the ER to get some fluids. We did just that. While we were there, the doctor ordered a CT (cat scan) of her head. We knew something was wrong when he knocked on the door and said, "Come with me. I want you to see her CT scan images." We walked into a room with computer screens and then the wind was knocked out of me when he said, 'There is no easy way to say this other than to just say it. I wish I didn't have to tell you this but Ruthie has a brain tumor.' I looked at the screen and he pointed out the golf ball-sized tumor inside the left upper quadrant of her brain.
Courtney posted that it was so hard to tell Ruthie.
"I walked down the hall back to her room and wanted to race towards the door while simultaneously wanting to slow down just so I could put off seeing her world about to change," she said. "Jeff and I walked into her room, and there she was - laying peacefully in the bed - sleeping- and then reality slapped me in the face. We had to tell her. So, we did - as lovingly and compassionately and as optimistically as we could. She wept - we wept - the doctor wept - and at that moment I realized our world changed forever. We came in because of headaches and we were leaving because of a brain tumor."
(Posted September 25, 2017)
Hundreds of visitors come to Union to witness once-in-a-lifetime event
By GRAHAM WILLIAMS
Traffic on Main Street was unusually heavy Monday morning - nearly every parking space was full. People walked up and down the sidewalks; some stopped for a coffee at Elle' Bell Café or browsed at Something Special.
They were here for the solar eclipse - the first total eclipse to cross America in 99 years and a one-in-a-lifetime experience for many people.
Because Union was located along the path of totality, many people who live in nearby cities and towns made the short drive from places like Fort Mill and Lake Wylie to view it. Others came from as far away as Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut.
Seeing all the activity on Main Street, more than one person commented that it reminded them of the days when downtown Union thrived.
Eclipse glasses were in short supply - people flocked to various viewing parties in hopes of getting a pair before they were all gone. At 1 p.m. a line stretched from the parking lot at the Carnegie Library all the way out to the front of the building for free glasses, hot dogs, cookies, drinks.
“We have 500 pairs of glasses and we anticipate giving all of them out,” library director Rieta Drinkwine said as she handed out hot dogs to people in line.
Looking back at the line, Drinkwine commented that although the turnout was “quite incredible,” she and other volunteers were happy to see so many people stop by and “we hope it's an awesome experience for everyone.”
Unfortunately, while library employees were outside helping others, someone stole a laptop computer from inside the library.
Hundreds of people also gathered at the Union County Airport to view the eclipse. By 1:30 p.m., cars filled the parking lot and were parked along both sides of Airport Road.
Airport director Ronnie Wade said 200 hot dogs were cooked for the event but “we ran out by the time we started.”
Wade said he and other organizers did not expect such a turnout.
“I think we learned as we went on,” he said. “It was wasn't something we thought we were going to have. If we had, we would have probably had 10,000 glasses and had enough for everybody.”
Holding up three pairs of glasses, Wade jokingly said, “I'll make a friend with these.”
Just then, a man approached him and asked for two.
“I come all the way from Indiana to get me some glasses,” he quipped.
At the Cross Keys House, cars were parked on both sides of Old Buncombe Road around 2 p.m. The Union County Historical Society sold parking spaces in a nearby field for $5 to raise money for the museum.
Visitors sat beneath pop-up tents or held umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun's hot rays. Within an hour, the sky would turn dark as the moon passed between the earth and the sun.
A large crowd of people was gathered on the grounds around the Cross Keys House; many found shelter beneath the large trees. Most were wearing the standard cardboard eclipse glasses as they looked toward the sky. One man had a pair of welder's goggles to protect his eyes from the sun; another lay back in a camp chair, his face covered by a welder's mask.
One couple from Ohio looked like they were working on their tans as they lay back on reclining chairs, holding hands, their eyes covered by eclipse glasses.
Nearby, a young girl waited in line for a snow cone made from shaved ice. Business must have been good - the block of ice was nearly gone.
Around 2:35 p.m., William Earl Sprouse alerted everyone around him that the time for the total eclipse was near.
“Five minutes to totality!” he shouted. “Five minutes!”
By this time, the sun had been reduced to a bright sliver by the interceding moon. The crowd was quietly anticipating the moment of total darkness.
Just before the sun completely disappeared, however, a dark cloud crept across the sky, blocking everyone's view of the celestial event. An audible groan could be heard as daytime turned to night.
The groans quickly turned to cheers, however, as the horizon turned deep blue and red - much like it does at sunset - except this time it was visible for 360 degrees. The temperature dropped a few degrees, bringing temporary relief from the early afternoon heat.
Less than a minute later, the sky began to brighten behind the clouds and people began packing up their chairs, cameras and coolers for the drive home.
They came, they saw - and experienced - the solar eclipse