By Emily Bialkowski
This time of year tends to draw out sentiments of goodwill and urges people to stop for a moment and appreciate what they have. It’s the season of giving, and for a year Mark Buttell has asked himself how he can give back to a community that has given to his family.
Buttell was born with a congenital heart disease and was the beneficiary of a benefit in 2007. The event was held in his honor to help his family of five with mounting medical expenses. Buttell has had four open heart surgeries and three implantable cardioverter defibrillators.
“I’ve always been fighting to try and keep going as best I can with what I have,” Buttell said. “I had to find a way to try and do something to give back.”
Last year at about this time, Buttell heard of a concept called “Ring and Run,” in which volunteers drop off cookies or gifts at an unsuspecting neighbor’s house, ring the doorbell and run away without ever revealing their identity. Buttell said the idea percolated in his mind all year until he connected with Elsie Babler of Elsie’s Bar & Grill and asked if donation jars could be set out to raise funds for a family in need in the community.
“When I asked her about it, she was all over it,” Buttell said of Babler. “I knew I could never do it on my own, but I wanted to do something positive.”
From now until Dec. 22, folks can drop a dollar or two in the jar labeled Ring and Run at Elsie’s, 226 E. Main St., Caledonia.
Meanwhile, Buttell continues to reach out to area churches and schools, seeking nominations of a deserving family in need.
“We’re going to do the best we can to choose a family. Whomever it is, we don’t want them to be offended,” Buttell said.
The selected family will experience a special kind of Ring and Run after Buttell collects all the funds, gets a cashier’s check made and drops the donation on a doorstep.
“Whatever we raise, we’ll put on a step,” Buttell said with assurances that his effort is legitimate. “I just hope to get them through a challenging time in their lives so they can move on.”
So far, feedback has been positive, and Buttell hopes Ring and Run will become an annual effort continued long beyond his years on earth.
The truth of the matter is: Buttell has been forced to contemplate his own mortality due to the nature of his disease. He has been shocked by his implantable cardioverter defibrillator up to 22 times in one night. “Getting shocked is not a great experience, but the alternative is not that attractive,” Buttell said.
The 46-year-old Caledonia man had hoped to reach age 40, and when he did, he set his sights on seeing all three of his children graduate. They are Claire, 11; Rose, 9; and Connor, 7. He also hopes Ring and Run will ease the suffering of a family experiencing difficult times.