How a Dunedin Mom Who Lost Her Son to Cancer is Giving Back
A Dunedin mother inspired by the loss of her 5-year-old son Mathew turned to Dunedin Lanes in January to help raise money for care packages for Florida families at their children's hospital bedsides.
Editor's note: This story originally ran in January. We're putting it in the spotlight again to highlight the accomplishments one person can make.
When Karen Gliddon was at the hospital with her cancer-stricken son, the last thing on her mind was leaving his side to get a toothbrush.
"I didn't want to leave Mathew for a second," the Dunedin mother said, holding back emotion while her 2-year-old daughter Molli doodled on a piece of paper nearby.
It's a topic she has a tough time talking about, but she insists, because she feels it is important.
Mathew, her firstborn of three children, battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia from the time he was 2 until succumbing at the age of 5. Molli hadn't even been born yet. Gliddon's younger son Andrew was a bone marrow match, but a post-transplant infection was Mathew's final blow on April 16, 2008. It's a date still fresh in Gliddon's mind.
Her experience fuels her work behind Paul's Project, a Palm Harbor-based charity that provides care packages and support to families of critically ill children at hospitals throughout Florida, including All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Tampa General Hospital and St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa.
The care packages contain comfort items not readily available, such as basic hygiene and toiletry items, socks, mints, a calculator, restaurant gift cards, laundry detergent and more — enough to sustain a family for five days. They are all items that would have been helpful to Gliddon in her time of need. Paul's Project also helps families with counseling, housekeeping, pet sitting and child care.
"When you're provided those types of comfort items, you don't feel so isolated," she said.
The organization is throwing its first family-friendly bowling fundraiser at Dunedin Lanes next Saturday, Feb. 2, with pizza, games, prizes and more.
And to help, Dunedin Lanes gave Gliddon 10 old bowling pins, which she decided to use in a decorating contest for local businesses.
So far, five Dunedin merchants are participating. Pins are still open to businesses that would like to join.
Gliddon's daughter finished her doodle: two scrawled circles with what looked like eyes and an extra scribble on top for hair.
She asked Molli, who is that?
"That's Andrew and that's Mathew," Molli said.
Want to Help?
- Decorate a bowling pin. Pin deadline is Jan. 31. Paul's Project just asks for a $25 donation in the form of gift cards or services to your business. Call 727-460-1027 or email email@example.com for more information. Participating businesses include: Art from the Heart Cafe, Dunedin Barber Shop, Dunedin Golf Club, Creative Keys and Kelly's.
- Sign up to bowl on Saturday. Get details in the Patch calendar listing: 'Pin Chasers for Parents' Bowling Fundraiser.
- Donate. Paul's Project accepts volunteers, monetary contributions or care package items.
- Visit paulsproject.org.
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