Central Montcalm High School friends come together years later to help

By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 10:28 am on Thursday, February 06, 2014

Paulina (Hurt) Lawton

SHERIDAN — Growing up in a small town, ties are made that last a lifetime, ties that transcend time and distance and remain strong over countless years and miles.

So it is for Paulina (Hurt) Lawton and Danise Garbow, both of whom graduated from Central Montcalm High School more years ago than either woman cares to admit publicly.

Lawton now lives in Grand Haven, Garbow in Metamora. But the bond of friendship that formed decades ago between the two women remains. So it’s no surprise that when Garbow heard about Lawton’s battle with breast cancer, she reached out to her old friend.

Lawton’s cancer, for which she’s currently being treated, had progressed too far to be easily removed. First came a long bout of chemotherapy treatments, which she just finished. Coming up are a series of aggressive radiation treatments. After that, hopefully, doctors will be able to operate on her tumor.

Meanwhile, Lawton’s medical expenses are going through the roof. Garbow, along with several of Lawton’s old school friends, hopes to help with a fundraiser from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday at RJ’s Sports Bar, just south of Sheridan on M-66.

“Her medical bills are astronomical and we are all just trying to help where we can,” Garbow said. “Our rally is one of love and light, the fun that we will have during this event is meant to raise her depleted spirits and hopefully help with her recovery so can not just fight but win this battle for her life.”

With assistance from her friend, John Rios, and a small but dedicated team of volunteers, Garbow has put together what an event that promises to put the “fun” in fundraiser.

“A lot of local businesses have donated stuff,” Rios said. “We have autographed celebrity items like a hockey puck signed by Chris Osgood, who was with the Wings when they won the Stanley Cup and rock and roll memorabilia signed by Nickelback and Ted Nugent.”

Hunting gear, wine kits, massage packages, movie passes, spa membership and dozens of other items donated by local businesses also will be auctioned off at the event. Also, drawings will be held for a Browning shotgun and Glock G17 9mm pistol. Anyone interested in purchasing tickets for the drawing who don’t plan to be at the event may do so online through Garbow’s Paypal account at danise.garbow@gmail.com.

Live music will be provided throughout the evening by the 4Warned band. Garbow added that, though she doesn’t know for sure what the turnout will be Saturday, she is — based on advance buzz on the street — expecting an overflow crowd.

“If we wind up with more people than the place will hold, we’ll just figure something out,” Garbow said. “This thing is just going viral, as much as a small town event can go viral.”

“Paulina is a kind, giving and generous old soul,” she said. “She feels with her heart and reaches beyond our capacity. Her trials are beyond what most of us can comprehend and they have only been compounded in the last few days. That’s what this is about. This is about … a team who have come together and worked for someone who needs the protection.”

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