When he grows up, Bart Andersen explains, he's going to be an "official lawyer." But Bart knows that a guy can't just work all the time, so he figures he'll be an official lawyer till 2 o'clock every afternoon and after 2 he'll attend to his hobby, which will be veterinary medicine.
Right now, though, since he's allergic to animals and he hasn't gone to law school yet, Bart prefers spending time with Amelia Homer, his Family Friend. Bart, 8, and Amelia, 63, like to put together a puzzle or curl up together on the sofa and read a book. Sometimes Amelia helps Bart practice his walking. Bart, who has had cerebral palsy since he was an infant, is learning to take a few steps with a metal walker.Amelia, a retired nurse, visits Bart about once a week as part of the Family Friend program sponsored by the Utah Easter Seal Society. Because of the consistent, reliable help that Amelia provides, Bart's mother can feel free to go off to the grocery store, or get some ironing done.
The Family Friend program is just one of the many Easter Seal services that will benefit from the "Shop and Care" fund drive currently in progress in Utah grocery stores.
The Shop and Care drive coincides with the annual Easter Seal Telethon, which airs March 4 and 5 on KSL-TV. Shop and Care raises money through the sale of designated products, identified with special stickers, at local stores. Food manufacturers, brokers and retail grocers participating in the program make a contribution to Easter Seals based on their sales of those items between Feb. 13 and March 31.
Last year Shop and Care raised over $80,000; this year's goal is at least $100,000, according to Sandi Murri, Easter Seal special projects coordinator. Murri points out that Shop and Care "benefits everyone involved. Food brokers and manufacturers can sell more products, retail grocers increase their store traffic, and consumers can buy their favorite name-brand products at savings."
Utah stores participating in this second annual Shop and Care include Albertson's, Allen's Super Save, Alpha Beta, Bestway, Dan's, Day's, Food 4 Less, Foodtown, Harmon's, IGA, Macey's, Ream's, Smith's, Thriftway and Winegar's.
Proceeds stay in Utah and go toward such Easter Seal programs as equestrian therapy, stroke support groups, respite care, equipment loan pools, public advocacy, information and referral services, and Family Friends.
Through Family Friends, Easter Seals hooks up senior citizen volunteers like Amelia Homer with the families of handicapped children like Brad Andersen, son of Kerry and Ludaun Andersen of West Jordan.
"I wish that Amelia would live forever and ever and ever and ever and be my Family Friend," says Brad, an enthusiastic and expressive second-grader at Jim Bridger Elementary.
Brad is less enthusiastic about the 21 operations he has had, including the most recent: "Osteotomy of the tibia, ugh! It's so dang painful I can hardly stand it!"
"I had a bleed in my head," Brad says, explaining how he developed cerebral palsy when he was 2 weeks old, "and the blood went to my brain and told my muscles to be really tight. And that's how I got it."
Brad is this year's poster child for Utah Easter Seals. He and his twin brother Beaux will appear on next weekend's Easter Seal telethon.