I ran into Molly Rascoe at school last week and was happy to see her looking fit as a fiddle. The more time goes by, the better the chances are that her body won't reject the new kidney she just received from donor Ben Sudduth, who I also saw at school and who's doing well, too. (If you've been hibernating and don't know what I'm talking about, check this space two weeks ago.)

As you probably also know, Molly's is only one of several transplant success stories to bless the North Country this holiday season. Two other young people in the region have also come through some tough times with flying colors: high-school junior Brock Marvin of E'town, and 22-month-old Camden Maneely of Malone. Both received recent heart transplants within a day of each other in Boston, where they shared a hospital room.

What you probably don't know is that Molly, Brock, and Camden have something in common besides successful transplants. They and their families all received support from an organization right here in Westport, the Christopher Emmet Hallowell Fund. Its mission is to help the families of North Country children who face a medical crisis by providing assistance with incidental expenses such as travel and lodging-things that insurance might not cover but which can really add up over time.

Christopher was a Westport resident who suffered from childhood leukhemia and eventually was one of the first recipients of a double heart-lung transplant. He passed away on December 12, 2002, and shortly afterward his family and friends established the fund in his memory. (Disclosure: I was lucky enough to be one of Christopher's many friends, and I currently serve on the board of the Fund.) Recently I spoke to his mom, Daphne Hallowell, who is the fund's guiding spirit. "I think it's wonderful that we could be part of these inspiring stories," she said. "It has really brightened things up at this time of year." How inspiring to transform an anniversary of grief into an affirmation of life and love-and what a totally appropriate way to remember a remarkable person.

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