Portland woman helps group with cancer - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Liberty Bank Channel 3 Surprize Squad

Portland woman helps group with cancer

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The Liberty Bank Channel 3 Surprize Squad helped a senior citizen in Portland create a special group to help those with cancer. (WFSB) The Liberty Bank Channel 3 Surprize Squad helped a senior citizen in Portland create a special group to help those with cancer. (WFSB)
PORTLAND,CT (WFSB) -

The Liberty Bank Channel 3 Surprize Squad helped a senior citizen in Portland create a special group to help those with cancer.

“A lot of them wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Fran,” Mary Flood, who is the director at the Waverly Center, said. “She is a leader in the true sense of the word.”

Fran Schoell is one of the busiest members of the Portland Senior Center, according to its director.

“She runs a program called Bears on a Journey,” Flood said. “They make bears for cancer patients.”

“As you can see, they're not all exactly the same,” Fran’s friend Phyllis Clark said. “Because everyone is different and they're all made by somebody different.”

Clark is not only a good friend of Fran, but she's also a member of the Bears on a Journey group, which makes the fleece companions. She also drops them off at Hartford Hospital's Helen and Hary Gray Cancer Center.

“They're here every Tuesday morning,” Flood said. “The whole group is a growing group.”

A growing group that started out with five people back in 2001 and has since grown to more than 20 members.

“It's invigorating,” Clark said. “You know that you're doing something that really, really matters to a lot of people.”

“It's just a labor of love on the part of all of them,” Flood said. “[It’s] love for the patients, but also love for Fran.”

That love is what's helping Fran get through her own journey with cancer. She was diagnosed back in September.

“She told me, when she was first diagnosed, that she instead of feeling sorry for herself, she realized how lucky she was to have lived 75 years without cancer--and I thought that was a great attitude,” Flood said. “Anything you folks can do to make her smile these days is great.”

A request that the Liberty Bank Channel 3 Surprize Squad is more than capable of fulfilling.

The Liberty Bank Channel 3 Surprize Squad sat down next to Fran and started to explain what it was doing at the senior center. But, it was hard for her to take in, considering how she's always the one to do things for others.

“I don't think I'm any more special than anybody else,” Schoell said.

“Well, you know? You are very deserving though that's why we're here today,” Nicole Nalepa said.

Then it was time to give her a special gift.

“We ended up getting two different things for you that you can use,” Nalepa said. “So, if you want to open up that envelope.”  

Inside the envelope was gift certificate to her favorite restaurant in town and money. Schoell said she wants to donate it toward the making of more bears.

“They all have names and they are all very popular with both men and women. It's amazing,” Schoell said. “I love the bears.”

If you're interested in donating to the making of these bears, click here. Send donations to the Bears on a Journey:

  • Portland Senior Center
  • c/o Bears On A Journey
  • 7 Waverly Ave, Portland, CT 06480

For more Liberty Bank Channel 3 Surprize Squads, click here

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