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Family honors girl’s memory through fun walk
For mom Amber Freeman, she’s found it’s less what people teach their children and more of what their children teach them.
With her daughter Hailey, 8, she learned a lot, particularly humility and how-to-be more health-minded.
“She was friendly and outgoing and said we shouldn’t be afraid to talk to people who are sad. Let them know it’s OK,” Freeman said.
The Helen Haller Elementary student loved to play with friends, go to the Boys & Girls Club, draw and ride her bike all the time. But last April Hailey unexpectedly died from a sudden-onset but still unknown illness.
Hailey’s family and friends are looking to honor her memory by setting up Team Hailey as part of the Dungeness Valley Health & Wellness Clinic’s Fun Walk and Wellness Fair this Saturday.
“We want to keep her memory alive and do goods things she would do,” Freeman said. “This helps her stay around us and makes her feel close.”
Going into its ninth year, the walk’s registration begins at 8:30 a.m. for individual/team walkers/runners on a 1-mile or 5-mile course for a 9 a.m. start time on Sept. 14 at Trinity United Methodist Church.
Freeman said her family is relatively new to the area and doesn’t know many people but anyone is welcome to join Team Hailey and is encouraged to wear red and a special name tag when they register with Freeman or the McKellar family at the event.
Team members can register in advance at Sequim Community Church’s office, 950 N. Fifth Ave., 9 a.m.-3 p.m. through Friday. For more information, visit sequimfreeclinic.org, or call Amber at 460-9520.
Organizers of the clinic’s walk support the Freeman family’s decision to form one of the many teams for the event.
Patty Lebowitz, a clinic board member, said more people will be involved in the walk if they can be part of something.
“This gives people an opportunity to walk as part of team Hallie,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine losing my child. Any support people can offer (the Freeman family) is wonderful.”
Supporters of Hailey said she practiced what she believed through activity and health. Mary Budke, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, remembers that Hailey loved to play in the gym and didn’t see it as necessary physical exercise, but a lot of fun.
Peggy and Jennifer McKellar from Sequim Community Church remember Hailey loved to sing loud and joyfully and without inhibition.
“Nobody was going to stop her from singing praises to God,” they said.
Freeman took Hailey to the E.R. near Enumclaw the night before her death with a high fever and other symptoms. She was treated and discharged but taken to the E.R. the next day in Port Angeles before Hailey died in transport to Seattle Children’s. The following September, family and friends put together a run/walk fundraiser to help her family pay medical bills.
Freeman said her daughter dreamed of many careers centered on helping people like owning a grocery store. “She wanted to give extra food to hungry people,” Freeman said.
Freeman said the adults in her family are under-insured and use the free clinic.
“They really helped us,” she said. “They treat you kindly and it’s all doctors and nurses donating their time.”
Participating in the walk is a win-win situation, Lebowitz said. “You win by walking and we win by having a $10 donation which we turn into $40 of services,” she said.
The clinic, at 777 N. Fifth Ave., Suite 109, set a goal of $47,000, which is the major fundraiser for its annual budget. Last year, it raised $33,833.
Its basic urgent care opens at 4:45 p.m. on a first come, first served basis Mondays and Thursdays.
Chronic healthcare clinic is by appointment on Tuesdays from 1-6 p.m. and the first and third Thursdays.
For more information, call 582-0218 or visit sequimfreeclinic.org.