Touching Lives Stories
PEACH of a Gal: Helen Celebrates Birthday with Drive-By Parade
On Saturday, April 25, 2020, approximately 140 cars paraded by Heritage Woods of Rockford, an affordable assisted lifestyle community managed by Gardant Management Solutions, to pay tribute to one of the original Rockford Peaches. Helen “Sis” Waddell had a key role for the women’s baseball team and later in the movie A League of Their Own.
Helen played for the Rockford Peaches in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1950 and 1951. She is a local celebrity who has called Rockford, IL her home since her professional baseball career ended.
Helen turned 90 years old on Friday, April 24. In tribute, her family spearheaded a campaign to honor this local icon with a Birthday Drive-By Parade. The parade, hosted at Heritage Woods of Rockford, received attention from local news stations as well.
Neil Wyatt, Helen’s son, did not expect the huge turnout. It ended up being about a 40-minute parade in celebration of his mother.
There were hoots, hollers, honks and lots of fanfare for a very deserving PEACH of a gal!
Touching Lives Stories
Ruth’s Story: Discovering a New Life at Heritage Woods of Rockford
Ruth Mahay was born into a loving home, but from the beginning, she had some health issues, and life would always be a bit of a struggle for her.
Due to those issues, Ruth couldn’t live on her own. She was able to work and got a job in a toy factory for 19 years. When her mother suffered from a stroke and had to move into a nursing home, Ruth would need a new home. She moved in with Pat, her younger sister.
Always one to stay busy, Ruth started volunteering and working with children at the Harlem Community Center. She enjoyed the job, and her new home was so close that she was able to walk there. Ruth also worked as a school lunch aide. Not being one to let anything define her, she got involved in the Special Olympics, too, earning many ribbons and medals over the years.
Things eventually slowed down and after living with her sister for 23 years, Pat realized that Ruth needed a change. Ruth was spending too much time watching television in her room; she would even eat her meals in front of the TV! Her sister thought she was spending too much time alone and decided to visit Heritage Woods of Rockford.
“This would be a perfect fit,” she thought, wanting to see Ruth happily engaged with others again.
Seven years ago, Ruth walked through the front doors of Heritage Woods. At first, she was scared and nervous, but she quickly adjusted and was so happy to be part of a community. For the first time, she had her own home, and she has gained some independence. Her sister and niece decorated her new home beautifully, and Ruth was so excited to show it to all her new friends and neighbors — and even to potential residents who come to tour!
As far as television, that has taken a back seat because she is so busy with all of the activities that Heritage Woods has to offer. Ruth attends nearly every activity and goes on most of our outings. She is an Ambassador (part of our welcoming committee) and a Baking Buddy (our group that bakes and raises money for local charities). She has been a part of the Affordable Assistant Living Coalition’s Wii Bowling Competition for seven years as well, so she is one busy lady — to say the least.
If someone is touring our community, Ruth is anxious to tell them how much she loves living here and all her reasons why we have helped her become a social butterfly again!