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Elizabeth folks show how chains of friendship bind

On a recent Sunday afternoon, a bitterly cold wind was blowing hard out of the northwest. The wind-chill factor was low enough to keep most people inside.
But for some, there was work to do. Craig Hedden needed firewood, so folks in the Elizabeth area pulled on their coveralls, gloves and toboggans, and fired up their chainsaws.
Hedden, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, has been unable to do much for several weeks. His woodpile kept getting smaller as the temperatures dropped.
Artie Lillpop heard about Hedden’s situation and started organizing an old-fashioned wood cutting.
‘I made a few phone calls, trying to find some help,’ said Lillpop. ‘And I told a few people who I saw around town. I thought we’d have at least 12 or 15 people show up to help. But when it’s this cold, sometimes it’s hard to get people out of the house.’
As it turned out, the word got around that Hedden needed help, and the pick-up trucks began to show up at Lillpop’s house right after church and kept coming until the driveway was full. Bill and Doug Miller showed up, as did Louie Hecht and Levon Hedden, Craig’s uncle. Matt Marion was there, and Roger Brown, Jeff and John Miller, Bob and Eddie Kingsley, Butch Blackman, Tom Funk and many, many others. Altogether, more than 50 people came out to help.
Hedden, 44, was diagnosed with B-Type Lymphoma after a bump appeared on his head a few months ago.
‘A swollen place came up on my head,’ said Hedden. ‘I thought it was one of those oil gland things and wasn’t really concerned about it. But I went to the doctor and had it removed two weeks before Christmas. They did a biopsy on it and determined that it was cancer.’
Hedden, who lives near Elizabeth, is now taking chemotherapy treatments and is scheduled to go to Indiana University Medical Center to have bone marrow taken and stored for later transplant if needed.
‘They say I have an 80 to 90 percent chance of full recovery,’ said Hedden. ‘I took my first chemo treatment last Thursday and that will continue every three weeks for six months. A lot of people have been praying for me. I owe a big thanks to my brother-in-law, Robert Hartley, and also James Crosier, who have been helping out. I firmly believe that God will get me through whatever happens.’
Lillpop, who owns a logging company, had several large logs available on his property, and what they thought would take all afternoon was accomplished in less than two hours. Some people used chainsaws to cut up the logs, some operated a wood splitter, and others loaded the wood into the bucket of a backhoe so it could be dumped onto flatbed trucks. The wood, over 30 ricks, was then hauled to Hedden’s residence and stacked.
When the work was done, Lillpop had two large pots of chili, hot dogs, bratwurst and all the fixings ready for the workers.
‘We have a bunch of great people here,’ said Lillpop. ‘We have done this 25 to 30 times through the years. When someone is in a car wreck and can’t work, or someone comes down with cancer, they need a little help, and the people in this community will be there for them. You couldn’t ask for a better place to live.’