By Linda Collins
Fairborn Daily Herald
ENON — Devoted family, friends and community leaders stepped up to the plate recently to make a lifelong dream come true for a local woman who is battling cancer.
The spotlight shined on Janice Delaney, 82, Saturday, Oct. 8 at the Speedway LLC corporate headquarters in Enon as she fulfilled a heartfelt aspiration to meet the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales up close and have photos taken with the eight-horse hitch team.
Delaney was diagnosed with colon cancer in April after doctors discovered a tumor during a colonoscopy and underwent surgery to remove the mass. At that time, test results revealed that the cancer had also spread to Delaney’s lymph nodes, and she elected to undergo chemotherapy treatments. However, in June, a PET scan showed that the cancer had metastasized to Delaney’s liver. According to Delaney’s daughter, Sherri Schaaf, her mother continued chemotherapy treatments, but her quality of life declined.
“The decision was made following a family meeting to stop the treatments,” Schaaf said. “Mom is now under the care of Hospice of Dayton, and they have been wonderful and so supportive.”
Schaaf recounted how her mother became fascinated with the Clydesdales when the family would watch the Budweiser commercials on televisoin. Schaaf noted that her mom had collected numerous Clydesdale items over the years, including a book from the Clydesdale horse farm and several Christmas ornaments.
“Christmas is mom’s favorite holiday, so we try to make sure that she receives some sort of gift with a picture of the Clydesdales. For a Christmas gift one year, we printed a picture of the Clydesdales and placed it in an envelope. We told our parents that we were planning a trip to the Clydesdales’ farm in St Louis so mom could see the horses. Unfortunately, her health declined, and we were never able to make the trip,” said Schaaf. “A few years ago, she got to see the stable at the Clark County fairgrounds where the Clydesdales were housed when they passed through the area.”
After reading a newspaper article about the Clydesdales’ upcoming visit to Enon for the grand opening of the new Speedway gas station and convenience store, Delaney’s granddaughter, Amanda Holt, quickly jumped into action and set out on a quest to fulfill her grandmother’s dream.
“My grandma has always been the go-to gal. She has been the matriarch of our family and the clue that holds it together. Grandma was on every bleacher and every sideline; and she never missed a beat when it came to picking us up, keeping us safe, and teaching us that we were loved.” Holt said. “Grandma is known as the amazing woman behind the scenes, and I wanted to do something very special for her because she would have done the same and so much more for us.”
Holt solicited help from her boss, Dr. Dana King at the Northside Veterinary Clinic in Springfield, who contacted Enon Apple Butter Festival Chairperson Jessi DeVore. DeVore then conveyed the family’s request to Enon Village Administrative Assistant Kristy Thome. According to Thome, village officials immediately “got the ball rolling” and contacted Speedway LLC corporate representatives.
Schaaf also reached out to another local individual who grew up on the same street she did and worked for Budweiser.
The Delaney family soon received a favorable answer to their request. On Thursday, Oct. 6, Terri Smith, a customer service representative for Speedway LLC, contacted Holt and told her that both Anheuser Busch and Speedway LLC were excited to make Delaney’s lifelong dream come true. On the same day, Schaaf received a phone call from the individual she grew up with, who put her in contact with Nick Hammond, the Budweiser Sales Director for Speedway LLC.
“Our Mom has always been there for us and never asked for much. In fact, she was more concerned about taking care of her family than herself,” Schaaf said. “We knew how much she loved these horses and how magnificent they were. I guess this was our way of trying to give to her something we knew she would love after all she has done for us. In the end, all parties came together to make this a very special day for our family and most of all, my mom.”
According to Schaaf, Delaney received the VIP treatment and embraced every minute of her hour-long visit with the Clydesdales. She also had the opportunity to hug and pet one of the Clydesdales horses named Bo and was showered with an array of gifts, including a red Budweiser blanket, hat, Clydesdales T-shirt, and special picture frame. A Budweiser representative also took an official photo of the family in front of the hitched team.
“Mom is a very special lady, and this has been a very tough year for her and our family,” Schaaf said. “She was just so appreciative of this and very thankful to everyone who made this happen. Mom is not used to being the center of attention outside of our family. We were all so excited for her, and the smiles on her face, as well as my dad’s, said it all.”
Now, the Delaney family is turning the tables and shining the spotlight on those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to fulfill Delaney’s wish, including Enon Mayor Tim Howard and Speedway LLC Operations Planning Tony Carf Manager, as well as Dr. Dana King, Terri Smith, Nick Hammond and Scott Corbitt. Schaaf also gave a shout out to photographer and friend, Kelly Becke, who took a number of pictures during Delaney’s visit with the Clydesdales.
“The fact these folks came together to help put a smile on my mom and dad’s faces, as well as the rest of the family, was something extra special. There are no words to express our gratitude to all the special people who made this happen,” said Schaaf. “This is a day we will cherish forever.”
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.