The wall of names served as a testament to the event’s purpose.
Two signs filled with the names in honor of and in memory of people diagnosed with cancer stood at the head of the track outside the Golden Isles Church of God, where a large crowd gathered Friday for the 25th annual Relay for Life in Brunswick.
Tents were set up around the track for the event’s sponsors and fundraising teams. Luminary bags circled the track in memory of those lost.
Cancer survivors kicked off the event with the Survivor and Caregiver Lap, and others cheered them on as the group walked the first lap of this year’s Relay for Life.
“It’s my fifth year, and I feel great doing it,” said Roger Tinkham, a cancer survivor, as he walked around the track before the event began.
This is the second year the local Relay for Life has been hosted at the Golden Isles Church of God, but it is the 25th year the event has been celebrated in Glynn County.
Months in advance, teams raised money to support the American Cancer Society. Those teams came out Friday to celebrate the fundraising efforts and to honor the cancer survivors and those who have died from the disease.
A team of employees from Rich Products, a local company that also served as a Relay for Life gold sponsor this year, raised a total of $14,000.
They also served food at the event Friday night, and the proceeds from sales went to the Relay for Life fundraiser.
“We ran a whole campaign for the last three or four months at our office,” said Tony Beer, who led the team at Rich’s. “We did a bunch of different things, from candygram sales, luminary sales, a Masters pool. We did the Pup Crawl … All proceeds are going to Relay.”
Cancer affects nearly all families in some way, and Beer said his company constantly seeks ways to help this community.
“It touches everyone,” Beer said. “It’s easy to relate to. We like to give back.”
The Relay for Life event annually brings the community together to celebrate and to support the search for a cure.
“We appreciate all of our survivors coming out, and we think you all for lining the track and cheering them on,” said Peggy Tuten, co-chair of the event, before the Survivor and Caregiver Lap. “this is a journey for all of us.”
Among the indictments issued Wednesday by a Glynn County grand jury include one for a man accused of aggravated assault, a woman accused of child cruelty and a man facing 16 counts on various charges involving illicit acts with children.
Michael Brahnan Lovell Jr. was charged with seven counts of sexual exploitation of children, four counts of attempting to commit a felony, three counts of obscene internet contact with a child and two counts of electronically furnishing obscene material to minors.
Between September 2014 and May 2015, Lovell allegedly got in contact with a girl he knew was under 16 years old through an online messaging service “involving matter containing explicit verbal descriptions of sexual conduct,” persuaded her to take nude images of herself, and sent to her an image of the human body depicting sexually explicit nudity. He also allegedly sent her an image of a minor engaged in sexually explicit nudity.
Between August 2014 and June 2016, Lovell allegedly persuaded a boy under 16 years old to take nude images of himself, sent the boy images of a minor engaged in the same sexually explicit conduct, exchanged nude photographs with him and arranged to meet the boy on Tybee Island.
Between August 2012 and June 2014, Lovell allegedly sent a second girl younger than 16 an image of a minor engaged in sexually explicit nudity, attempted twice to get her to take images of herself doing the same, and used an online messaging service to talk with her involving matter containing explicit verbal descriptions of sexual conduct.
Between January 2014 and December 2015, Lovell allegedly sent a third girl younger than 16 an image of a minor engaged in sexually explicit nudity, as he allegedly did to a fourth girl between September and November 2015.
During the same time period with the fifth girl, Lovell allegedly contacted her through an online messaging service and discussed sexually explicit subject matter, sent her an image of a part of a human body in sexually explicit nudity, exchanged nude images with her and made plans to meet to engage in sexual acts.
In an unrelated case, Gary Westberry is charged with aggravated assault and terroristic threats. On June 18, 2018, Westberry allegedly pointed a knife at a woman, held it to her throat and threatened to kill her by cutting her neck from ear to ear.
Titiana Butler, in the third case, faces three counts of first-degree cruelty to children. The indictment doesn’t go into a great deal of detail, but on Nov. 27 and Dec. 28, 2018, and Feb. 9, 2019, she allegedly maliciously caused excessive physical pain by striking a child younger than 18 about the head and face in the first instance, with a belt in the second instance, and allegedly hit the child with her hand in the face and chest in the third instance, causing excessive physical pain.
Ross Allen tried to explain to a visitor the predicament that left him virtually confined to his apartment off Altama Avenue, but his words were suddenly drowned out by the whining grind of a power drill.
Then the noise stopped. Allen started to speak again.
“I couldn’t go outside for over ... “ and that was all he could manage before the drilling resumed.
What the Vietnam War veteran was trying to say was that he had been stuck inside for months, unable to get his wheelchair over the 4-inch stoop at the front door of his apartment at LIVE Golden Isles Apartments, 5700 Altama Ave. But the noise was done for good after that, and so was Allen’s immediate problem.
“C’mon out,” called Joe Perry from the front door, the power drill still hot in his hand.
Allen maneuvered his motorized wheelchair smoothly down the new ramp that led out of his apartment and onto the sidewalk outside. With the noontime sun shining down on him, Allen wheeled his chair around, looked up at Perry and smiled.
“How’s that?” asked Perry, himself an army veteran of Desert Storm.
“Oh, yeah,” Allen said. “This is great. I’m mobile again. Thank you.”
Perry is a carpenter by trade, but he built this new handicap ramp for Allen on his own time — a gesture of goodwill from one warrior to another. In fact, much of Perry’s free time is spent reaching out to veterans in need through the local nonprofit, Warriors22. The group is comprised of six local residents who raise money through fundraisers and donations to provide immediate and tangible assistance to veterans and active-duty military folks in need.
Sometimes it is as simple as rolling up their sleeves and taking matters into their own hands for veterans like Allen.
“This is what our group does,” said Perry, who served in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm, from 1990-91. “We just got a call to help another veteran today. We will be getting in touch with him. Word is getting out about (Warriors22). People just contact us and say, “Hey, I know someone, a veteran who needs help.’”
And that is pretty much how Perry met Allen. Navy veteran, local woodworker and all around doo-gooder Bryan LeGwin and his wife Joan reached out to Warriors22 a few weeks ago about Allen. A navy veteran who served in Vietnam, Allen has been confined to a wheelchair for six months — the result of what he described as two failed back surgeries.
Allen’s motorized wheelchair (provided through his VA benefits) could not maneuver the drop from the front door to the stoop, much less the bigger drop from the stoop to the sidewalk. His efforts to get the apartment’s officials to assist were fruitless, Allen said. The apartment’s property manager was out of town this week and could not be reached for comment, a woman there told The News.
Except when someone could come and bounce him over the humps in a manual wheelchair for doctor’s appointments and other emergencies, Allen had been stuck inside his apartment. Also, the bedroom is upstairs, so he has been sleeping on a bed set up in the living room.
Bryan LeGwin built Allen a temporary ramp a couple of weeks ago, for which Allen has been most grateful. “I hadn’t really felt the sunshine in over five months before that,” said Allen, 68.
But that ramp was constructed of untreated wood, which will not long withstand the South Georgia elements. “It was not pressure treated, but it was a good temporary fix,” Perry said.
On Wednesday, Perry arrived with a sturdier ramp, constructed of marine grade plywood and treated wood framing. Perry and his two sons, Matthew and Wesley, removed the temporary ramp and installed the newer, sturdier ramp. Then they drilled it in place onto the concrete stoop.
“I couldn’t get out of my home,” said Allen, a Glynn County resident since 1995. “Now I can go across the street to Publix to shop, get my hair cut, just get around.”
For more than three years now, the Warriors22 group has been dedicated to making a difference in the lives local veterans, from building handicap ramps to housing the homeless to finding help for veterans struggling with PTSD. The group also networks with the VA, as well as other nonprofit veterans groups, Perry said. The numeral 22 in their name represents a recent estimate of veterans who commit suicide daily across the country, according to VA statistics.
The other Warriors22 members are: Patrick Nesbitt and wife, Karen; Lora and Ray Schwarting; and Tina Yawn.
Last Saturday, Warriors22 held a benefit poker run motorcycle ride and a car, bike and truck show at the Glynn Place Mall. The $2,800 the group raised went to the family of local resident John Myers, a veteran of two Middle East combat tours who faces mounting bills due to medical problems. Warriors22 reached out to local homeless veterans in December by handing out backpacks, each stuffed with a blanket, a hygiene kit, a rain poncho and several pair of thermal socks.
Last summer the guys made a road trip to the Army Reserve Center in Tifton, where they took furniture and other supplies to an fill the empty apartment of a recently-transferred active-duty soldier. The effort made Warriors22 grateful for community support.
They had put a call out on their Facebook page seeking donations for the young man on a Friday. “On that Sunday, we we were able to deliver him a full house, everything he needed,” Perry said.
New members and supporters are welcome at Warriors22, he said. Members do not have to be veterans to join. For more information, go to warriors22.org, or call Perry at 912-324-9014, or Patrick Nesbitt at 912-258-1404.
“We try to help out any where we can,” Perry said. “It’s great how people support us. And we would definitely welcome more support, especially more hands on support. Right now, we’re raising money to put a new roof on a veteran’s home. It’s badly needed and we’ll need help with that.”
They don’t make men like Roy Hodnett anymore. He was the embodiment of his era, the Greatest Generation, one who held firm to the tenets of integrity, faith — and most importantly, family.
Hodnett passed away at the age of 98 Thursday night at Hospice of the Golden Isles in Brunswick. With his death, this community has truly lost a great man — not only because of his power and presence but because of the person that he was.
A World War II veteran wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, he was awarded the Purple Heart, the Silver Star and the Bronze Star, combat badge, as well as numerous other medals.
He got his start in the business world working for a cookie brokerage company before moving to the Golden Isles in 1968 and forging a real estate empire.
Bill Downey, Realtor at Golden Isles Realty, remembers Hodnett’s first days on the island.
“He originally sold cookies. He’d give my kids boxes of them when they’d go by his house,” Downey recalled.
“Then he got into the real estate business with Hans Trupp. Roy was a real nice fella, even though he was a competitor. He was a straight shooter. We’re going to miss him.”
Hodnett prided himself on fairness, basing his business model on the Golden Rule — do unto others as you would have them do unto you — rather than bottom lines or profit margins.
This philosophy served him well and he passed it on to his daughter, Pat, through their partnership at Hodnett-Cooper Real Estate, now known as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hodnett Cooper Real Estate. After making several “failed” attempts at retirement, Hodnett continued to work daily right up to the end of his life.
He was also a dedicated community leader, nabbing nearly every accolade and honor in Glynn County. Hodnett served on countless boards and committees, lending his hand and his heart to charitable causes voluntarily and certainly whenever called upon.
Woody Woodside, president of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce, remembers him as someone always committed to serving the community and the entities within it.
“He was very much a philanthropist, giving to a number of organizations to improve the quality of life in Glynn County — and he didn’t want to be recognized for doing it. He was not a selfish person,” Woodside said.
“Of course, I knew him through different activities with the Chamber, dealing with issues in the community and advocating for different projects. He was interested in issues on the state and federal level too. He always encouraged people to get involved in civic service or local government.”
In his personal life, he lived by moderation and abstention. Hodnett never had a drink or smoked a cigarette. He exercised — “but not too much.” He was a dedicated member of First United Methodist Church on St. Simons Island but supported a number of Christian causes throughout the community.
For Bill Walker, a friend and founding chairman of The Gathering Place, Hodnett personified the phrase “Christian gentleman.”
“Roy Hodnett was an absolute inspiration in my life. He was a transparent Christian and a completely godly man. His support of everything spiritual was extraordinary,” Walker said.
“From the day we began the Gathering Place youth ministry until the day of his passing, Roy was always a generous and responsive supporter. If we ever had a new program, Roy would step up and fund it for the first year. He was a fantastic community supporter and just a Christian of the highest order.”
Like his strong faith, the love of his family fueled his journey. Hodnett had three children, Michael Hodnett and Pat Hodnett Cooper, as well as a son, Kelly Hodnett, who preceded him in death. He had nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Then there’s the love of his life, his sweetheart Anne, to whom he was married for 75 years.
Of all of his accomplishments, marrying her was clearly his favorite, the “best deal he’d ever done.” Their love and devotion to one another was inspiring to all who knew them — and likely to absolute strangers. It was a palpable and sincere affection.
The ripples from Mr. Roy’s life — professional and personal — will live on. The standard he set will serve as a bar against which all civic leaders, philanthropists and business people should measure themselves.
They don’t make men like Roy Hodnett any more but this community is certainly better for having him in it.