Guest Commentary: In need of some help

Published 5:16 pm Friday, August 4, 2023

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By Gina Grundmeier


We watch the world go around and around with so much sadness and bad news – we need to see the good and feel that in our hearts so that is why I wanted to share our story!  I run a small non-profit located in southeastern Minnesota, Pay It Forward, and I am trying to do what I can to bring some light and love into this world! When I found out that my friend Ed was in need of some of that light and love – I just knew I had to find a way to bring it to Homerville, Georgia!! 

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Our small non-profit just celebrated 10 years this past March and we have given over $1 million in repairs and aid back into our community and to a few other states across the country!  We can now add Georgia to that list!  We are a registered 501(c) 3 and you can read more about us on our website Here’s my story about the Bennett’s.

 Nearly 25 years ago I met Ed and Janet online.  Yahoo used to have a game section where you could play games and chat with people.  I was a single mom who stayed home so it was a great way to entertain myself and still engage with people from across the country.  There were a select few of us that would go into play JT’s Blocks and always head to the same game room.  There were even “back doors” we’d use if the room was full and we wanted to chat with our friends. 

 We have continued to stay in contact over the years, even when Yahoo closed the gaming portion of their site in 2016 after a 20-year stint.  Thank goodness for Facebook to keep up to date on each other’s lives.  We’ve watched our children grow, shared the good times and the bad. 

 Within the last several months Ed started having health problems and ended up learning he was in need of a liver transplant.  So I started a GoFundMe to try and help with the medical expenses and travel as they were going through the prescreening and tests to prepare for a transplant. 

I sent a portion of the money about three weeks ago, but I knew I had to meet them and deliver the rest in person.  So in comes my friend Darcy, who was looking for a quick weekend getaway and had built up a bundle of Delta sky miles. Our flight cost $22 total! 

With the help of Heather (their daughter) we showed up at their home in Homerville, Georgia. As I stood outside their door, I called Janet to check on her and see how things were going …  Then I knocked 

 Janet sleeps in the living room on a couch to be near Ed so she can keep a mindful eye on him not knowing if he will fall even more gravely ill.  Sitting with them for hours we chatted like we were family that hadn’t seen each other in a while and then parted ways with lots more hugs.  I haven’t been called Vanny in years! But Ed dropped my nickname like it was yesterday!

 Pray for my wonderful friends and they continue through this health journey and carry a weight of medical bills to move forward.  I’ll continue to do what I can from across the country, 1,233 mile away! 

 A statement from Janet after my visit, “I cannot go to bed without sharing what a wonderful day we had today, and what a surprise I had in store for me!! Ed Bennett and I were blessed to have made friends with a great group of people in an online Yahoo JT Blocks game room chat many years ago. We have continued those friendships over social Media. Over the last 23 plus years Gina M. Grundmeier and I have watched each other’s children grow up, we have received Christmas cards/letter updates, there have been tears shed and prayers prayed across the miles. I have watched her so many times selflessly help others in need, putting others above herself regardless of the blows life has dealt to her, because that is just her, her personality, and a testament of the big heart that she has. She is the precious friend who organized Ed’s GoFundMe towards his prayerfully being put on the list for his Liver Transplant. 

One of our last chat conversations, I told her that she was truly an Angel, and that I prayed that one day I could hug her because I wanted to be able to tell her just how Special she is and how much she is appreciated. Little did I know that her and Heather Renae had been planning to make that very thing happen. Thank you again Gina and Darcy for coming to visit and spend time with us. I pray that maybe this can be the first of many visits.” 

We love you and your Precious family!!