Moose members shave heads for one of their own
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Talk to any member of the Moose Lodge 2029 of Copperas Cove, and they have one word in common when describing each other: family.
On Thursday night, the club gathered to come to the aid of the sister of one of their own. What started out as simply a show of support turned into an event that raised a total of $2,800.
Moose Club member Chris Yarbrough said his sister, Audrey Hiller, who lives in Edgar Springs, Missouri, came down initially with what she thought was a cold. The 52-year-old postal worker went to the doctor on December 1, but continued to worsen.
Then on December 10, Yarbrough said Hiller was admitted to the University of Columbia Hospital where they found her lungs were filling with fluid, with her right lung so full it was compressing her left lung. After that came a CT scan which also revealed a mass in her right lung. Initially, it didn’t appear that she was going to make it, and Yarbrough and the rest of the family were called in by the hospital. Hiller had been intubated and a feeding tube was placed.
“They didn’t know it was so aggressive,” Yarbrough said. “Within 10 days’ time, she was almost dead.”
Hiller has already begun chemotherapy and radiation, Yarbrough said, adding that he became inspired to shave his head. He had just returned to Texas from Missouri and saw a video posted on Facebook by his other sister, of her and her daughter shaving their heads in support of Audrey.
That’s when the lodge came in, said Debbie Pomato, vice president of the Moose Riders and secretary-treasurer of the Women Of The Moose.
“When Chris was talking about shaving his head and recording it for his sister, one of the guys said, ‘Hey, I’ll do it with you and we can do it here at the lodge,’” Pomato said. Then another member stepped up, and another.
Pomato said they set the date and were able to ask Cindy Wayne, a stylist with Ulta, to come in and assist with the shaving, with the idea to auction off the heads of hair and raise some funds to help Audrey.
In all, 12 members had their heads shaved, with fellow members and other supporters on hand to witness and take photos and video.
Pomato was impressed by the donations raised for a simple event.
“The evening was amazing. The money that these people put toward getting heads shaved, and the ones who volunteered to get their heads shaved, was just – well, the words weren’t there. It was very emotional,” said Pomato. “It wasn’t the riders, not the women, it was us as a family, the Moose family that put their hearts and souls into somebody they really care about.
“Chris does so much for the lodge; he is always out there, helping with every cleanup, with every event. He makes sure that he is out there helping. That’s why everybody stepped up. I didn’t imagine it going to the level that it did.”
Altogether that evening, the donations amounted to $2,300, with the Moose Riders matching up to $500, Pomato said. At first, Yarbrough was reluctant for the event to be a fundraiser, but in the end, agreed.
“(Audrey) and the family were heartbroken, excited, they thought it was crazy, the family down here shaving their heads. But they were all blessed by it,” Yarbrough said when he told them what they were going to do. “She’s going to need a handicapped ramp when she gets home, so the money will help with that.”
He said this week, the hope for his sister is that she will do well enough being switched to chemo pills that she might be able to go home by the end of next week.
Pomato also shared about the lodge’s support for charities locally, such as the Tommy Moose program, which provides stuffed moose animals to first responders to give to children during moments of crisis.
The lodge also supports Moose International’s home for children, Moose Heart, located west of Chicago, in a “kid city,” where the children in crisis live in a home setting until they are 18. Each year, Pomato said the Moose Riders also contribute so every graduating senior that lives at Moose Heart will receive their own laptop. The club also supports Moosehaven, a retirement home for senior adults in Florida.