The world needs more Gundersons

Published 9:53 am Saturday, April 3, 2010

Whoever said Easter egg hunts are just for kids didn’t tell Judy Gunderson.

For the past 20 years, the Austin woman has put on an elaborate hunt for family and friends on Easter Sunday — adults included.

The event has become so big that Gunderson, who simply thinks more should be done on holidays, will have 1,600 eggs this year ready for the finding.

“The eggs kind of just lay in the yard now because there are way too many of them,” Gunderson said.

While the number of eggs has increased, this year’s attendance is expected to be lower simply because some regulars had other commitments.

Gunderson said 16 people will be at today’s event, which means roughly 100 eggs apiece.

“We all line up outside and go ‘one, two, three’ and everyone goes until they’re all picked up,” she said.

Those at the annual event are usually a member of one of two families or affiliated with one of two families — the Gundersons and the O’Learys.

Gunderson first met Janelle O’Leary when Gunderson answered a childcare provider advertisement more than 20 years ago.

O’Leary was a restaurant owner and needed someone to watch her newborn son so she could work odd hours.

Gunderson took the job and has been a part of the O’Leary family in some aspect or another ever since.

“They are the type of people who would give anything to anyone,” O’Leary said about Gunderson and her husband Dan. “They have been like parents to my children.”

Judy Gunderson’s generosity and love for the O’Learys is shown each Easter with the annual hunt.

And did I mention the event is for the kids and the adults?

Those lucky enough to be invited hunt for eggs that are filled with candy and more.

Some have lottery tickets. Some have money, and others have little pieces of paper inside that can be redeemed for items once the hunt is over.

Judy Gunderson calls it ‘The Store’ part of the day where she hands out prizes based on the color of paper that’s turned in.

“A blue colored piece of paper is a bag of chips,” Judy Gunderson said. “And there are ones for juice boxes.”

And it doesn’t stop there. Everyone also has a special egg with their name on it that is redeemed at the end for a gift picked out specifically by Judy Gunderson.

Ryan O’Leary, for instance, Janelle O’Leary’s oldest son, always gets five boxes of cereal because he eats it every day.

“He loves cereal,” Judy Gunderson said.

There are only two people at the hunt every year who don’t participate, Judy and Dan Gunderson.

“I get the satisfaction from everyone else doing it,” Judy Gunderson said. “I don’t go (in the hunt), and my husband doesn’t go. He could go, but he doesn’t.”

The world needs more Dan and Judy Gundersons. Here is a couple who gives unconditionally every year for something they believe in and puts so much effort into it that there are 100 eggs for every one person.

While I can only imagine how nice it would be to find a lottery ticket or money in an Easter egg, the real find for these two families was made more than 20 years ago.

That was the time when one woman needed a child care provider, and another woman answered the call for help.