HATS OFF: Janesville boy thanks doctors who operated on his mom with donation

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Frank Schultz
Sunday, March 19, 2017

JANESVILLE—Tyler Hegle was 8 when his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two years later, she is cancer-free, and Tyler is more than relieved.

“I was worried, a lot,” he said.

After two lumpectomies, Deb Hegle was judged to be in remission, although drug therapy continues.

“After my mom had cancer, I just wanted to help people because I know how hard it is,” he said.

So he set up a lemonade stand in front of his grandmother's house in Janesville—she lived on a busy street—and advertised all proceeds to help cancer patients.

The son of Deb and Scott Hegle raised a bit more than $34, some of that from customers who gave more than the asking price of 50 cents a glass.

Deb had gotten help to pay for her treatments from a foundation, so Tyler planned to donate to the foundation. Then he learned about the trip to Uganda.

Dr. Patricia Garner and her husband, Dr. Gregory Denison, treated Deb and, as it happens, are part of 25-member mission group traveling to the village of Buluba, Uganda, this spring.

They and others in the group plan to perform surgeries on people who otherwise would not be able to get treatment.

Nonmedical participants will help build an addition to a school and volunteer at schools and a leper colony, said Sandra Mascari-Devitt, a breast health navigator who worked with the Hegles and who is going on the trip.

“I am so thankful to you,” Garner said Friday as she met Tyler and gave him a T-shirt with the slogan: “Making a difference a stitch at a time.” It's the team T-shirt for the trip.

Garner said she would present the same shirt to a boy in Uganda, along with a photo of Tyler, and she would bring back a picture of the boy so Tyler could make contact.

“It really touched our hearts that you donated your time and money to people in another country. It's just amazing,” Garner told Tyler, who seemed a bit embarrassed by the attention.

Garner showed Tyler photos on the wall of her office from a previous Uganda trip.

“You can see their clothes don't fit, no shoes. They don't have a lot, but they're just so happy and thankful,” Garner said of a photo of the people who were helped.

All those on the trip are paying their own way, Mascari-Devitt said. They are packing their bags with supplies and sending equipment they will leave with the local hospital.

But despite that and fundraising efforts, as of Friday, they still needed about $1,000 to pay for more anesthesia drugs, Mascari-Devitt said.

And they are not taking about $7,000 worth of equipment they had planned for.

Tyler still wants to donate to the foundation that helped his mother. She told him he will have to sell more lemonade next summer.

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