The many people who loved Michele (Mickie) Wygant were devastated by her untimely death.
Her smile no longer would brighten their lives, except in memory. She and her fiance, Chester Jaromin, wouldn't get to hold that funky Halloween wedding ceremony they'd been planning. The two homeless "mutts" she'd adopted from the SPCA would wait in vain for her return.
Now, in Mickie's memory, her friends and family are organizing a benefit called, "Honoring Our Precious Mickie." It will take place Sunday at the Gowanda Fire Hall on Aldrich Street. Activities start at 11:30 a.m., leading off with a $7 a plate Steve Forster all-you-can-eat ham dinner. Take-out orders are available. There'll be a 50/50 giveaway, a bake sale and a Chinese auction, as well. A country band called Uncle Ben's Remedy, made up of friends of Mickie and Chester, will offer music and there'll be face painting for the children and other young-at-hearts.
A benefit, “Honoring Our Precious Mickie,” will be held Sunday at the Gowanda Fire Hall for Mickie Wygant, pictured above.
Another interesting feature will be Star's Cars - in this case, the vehicle driven in the movies by the Blues Brothers. If this sounds like the car you've always wanted to be photographed with, here's your chance. In addition, Sean Patrick McGraw has donated a package of autographed articles which the organizers plan to include in the auction. There'll be chances to win door prizes, too.
The benefit is being organized by Mickie's mother, Denise Ebert, and her niece, Kristen Whalen. It has a dual purpose. Owing to the prolonged nature of Mickie's illness, there were few reserves left to pay for her funeral and burial. The family hopes to use part of any money raised to purchase a headstone for her grave in Cattaraugus Liberty Park Cemetery, where she asked to be buried near her beloved grandfather, Gerald Dickinson.
"If there's any extra, we plan to donate it to the dialysis unit of Buffalo Children's Hospital," Mrs. Ebert said. "Helping some other person beat this terrible disease would make Mickie very proud."
'SHE NEVER STOPPED'
As an often sickly child, Mickie wondered why she couldn't keep up with her friends. After a particularly bad siege of nausea, doctors ordered her into the hospital for diagnostic tests. Within hours, her problem was identified as chronic renal disease. Basically, her kidneys were dying. According to her mother, it was then, at the tender age of six, that Mickie first learned how to fight - "and she never stopped," her mother said..
For the next 21 years, Mickie fought on an almost daily basis.
"Her first kidney transplant was done when she was 11," Mrs. Ebert said, "and her second at age 24. She made goals for herself, and worked hard to achieve them."
She graduated from high school, even after having two strokes, along with open heart and abdominal surgery, just as she was about to start her senior year. Taking a year off to recuperate, she returned to school and graduated at the age of 21, winning the Howard Parrish Award for her courage and determination.
A few months ago, she learned her plasma treatments were becoming less effective. Although devastated by the news, she nonetheless rallied her dwindling strength.
"She tried so hard," said her mother, "to live a normal life."
In June, only hours after an afternoon visit with her family, Mickie took a sudden turn for the worse. She didn't get to see her 28th birthday.
Mrs. Ebert hopes her daughter would approve of the benefit.
"She loved life," she said. "Though she was sick a lot, she always wanted to be part of things. She will definitely be part of this. We'll have pictures showing a montage of her life."
For more information, call 338-5486.