A car wash was held at Pizza Hut in downtown Waynedale on Saturday, September 12. Miami Middle School’s Cross Country Team raised money to purchase uniforms and equipment.
A car wash was held at Pizza Hut in downtown Waynedale on Saturday, September 12. Miami Middle School’s Cross Country Team raised money to purchase uniforms and equipment.

“On a day like this with a few fluffy clouds and a bright yet dark blue sky,” began Mike Palmer holding back his emotions, “that was what it was like when we buried our beautiful 3 -1/2 year old daughter, Leigh Ann, after an accidental drowning on May 28, 1995. Strangely enough a rainbow appeared amongst the clouds and the blue sky. That was when we knew she was okay. It was as if she was saying, “I’m okay Mom, Dad, Ryan, Zachary, Matthew, Mick. I’m with God now. I will be here, waiting for you.”

The death of a child is like no other battle.

“I was one of those people who had a hard time bearing the loss of my child,” said Mike.  “It’s a terrible weight to carry around but, through the positive prayers, blessings and a strong community we are surviving. Like Father Dave suggested in his homily today, take up your cross and follow Jesus.”

From the Gospel of Mark, the second book in the New Testament, Father Dave Ruppert spoke …let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Jesus. {Mark 8:34} And these solemn words were expressed not only to the twelve disciples but to all the people in general.

“Your faith, community, family and friends are there for your support. Do something positive to keep going, no matter what gets you down,” was the message Father Dave relayed during Mass at St. Therese Catholic Church on Sunday.

And that is what the Palmer family did.

Fifteen years ago, this strong Catholic family organized the Leigh Ann Palmer Scholarship Fund Golf Outing. It was held in their daughter’s memory and established two scholarship funds. One was for a senior cheerleader at Bishop Luers High School to help pay college tuition her freshman year. The other scholarship fund was for an eighth grade girl at St. Therese to help pay tuition into Bishop Luers High School during their 9th grade.

“After the first outing, as we were heading home, I recall the pain and agony. I said to myself, I need to learn how to deal with this pain and loss of my child. This is when we decided to take up this cause, like we have done,” Mike said as he spoke to the mass of rainbow-colored shirts that were distributed to the golfers as a symbol from the day that Leigh Ann was put to rest. Leigh Ann would have been 18 years of age, a senior at Bishop Luers and most likely a cheerleader.

It was a double shotgun start of your choice, either 7am or 1pm, at the Grey Goose Golf Club in Decatur. A 4-person team Florida scramble that brought out 36 teams.

On this sunny, yet blue day, a prayer along with a blessing was given to the golfers before they hit the links.

Leigh Ann’s mom, Lisa, expressed her “bitter sweet” feelings. She said the biggest thing was the peace that fell over her. One of the family’s biggest fears when their daughter died was that she would be forgotten. “Please don’t forget her today, tomorrow, or ever,” was Lisa’s cry. To follow was Leigh Ann’s younger brother Mick’s poem which brought tears as well.

The golf outings have come to an end, but “please keep our little girl in your prayers,” were the wishes of the Palmer family.

Due to the success of the golf outings and the valuable input from sponsors and golfers, Mike and Lisa have established the Leigh Ann Palmer Foundation, Inc. The Palmer family will continue to give scholarships and contribute to children’s charities as long as the funds hold out.

The Waynedale News Staff
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Cindy Cornwell

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