In Search Of….Gman and Kelly Part 2
Two friends make one amazing dream come true
TREMPEALEAU, Wis. (WKBT) — “I’m so excited!”
It is a very big day for long time best friends Kelly Gardner and Garrett Williamson or “Gman” as he known. “Sometimes it’s ‘G,’ sometimes it’s ‘Garrett,’ sometimes it’s ‘hey you!,'” says Gardner who is enthusiastic about most everything.
“I’m kind of quiet and don’t talk much,” adds Garrett. “She says what I am thinking.”
“It’s like Christmas!” Today is the day one simple idea starts to form. It’s a journey that began last year when Kelly crossed the finish line of her first 5K. “I sent Garrett a text and said, we’re going to do this.”
Running is something Garrett hasn’t done in years. Actually, he was never really able to keep up with his friends. At 5 years old, they found out why.
Garrett’s mom Vicky remembers going to the doctor. “They took one look at the size of his calves and had a clue that it was muscular dystrophy and this particular form called Duchenne. Most of the boys only live until they’re 16, 17 years old.”
Over the years, Kelly has watched her friend go from walking to wheel chair bound, unable to do all the things he wants to do. Which is why this idea just stuck.
Kelly shares the exact text she sent last year. “I looked up jogging chairs. I think we can totally fundraise enough. This is so something we can do together! It won’t be hard. I hope you’re in. And he said ‘Cool, yeah. That sounds good!'”
“She mentioned it on the phone a few times,” says Vicky. “The she just showed up at work with a binder and had all this stuff. ‘Look at what I’ve been doing!’ Ok Kelly. She just went crazy with it.”
“Our goal was 8,000 to purchase the chair and for race entries and transportation money. We don’t want anything to stand in the way of our dreams.”
With the plan in place, they joined an online donation site. “So people could just donate from home, no mailing a check, just easy.”
And with that, the “Walk and Roll” movement was born! “And the response was crazy. Just nuts. Friends and family. That night we had $135 dollars and we were ecstatic. We were singing and having a great time for $135.”
Four days later it jumped to 2000 dollars. In a matter of weeks they were able to order Garrett’s new cutom made chair and today it has arrived. “It’s awesome.”
“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. That’s all we did was decide were going to try this. And look where we are.”
This past June, two friends made one amazing dream come true. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Together they raced again and again. “We just have the motto “Be Brave, Be Strong and Be You.” And that’s all we are. We’re brave to try new things and we’re strong because we’re doing it together and we’re just ourselves. Our friendship hasn’t changed at all. We haven’t changed wh we are or anything about our personalities. How many people can say they’ve been friends with the same person for ten years, no fighting, no falling out, nothing. He’s been by my side through everything. Having him for support has been great. I need him as much as he needs me.”
Garrett adds their friendship “got me through a lot of hard times.”
“It’s an amazing friendship,” says Vicky. “And at this point in his life, I can’t imagine anything better than the friendship he has with her.”
Kelly admits she can’t help but think about the ticking clock on Garrett’s life. “All the time. But I know that it’s not about how many years he has left. It about everything we do in the years he’s around.”
They know what’s in front of them. Know their days are numbered and that “best” friends will never get to be “old” friends. But they are focused on today.
And today they are determined to keep on rolling.