A Community Rallies Around the Chapman Family

I attended the first annual Tee it Up for the GFPD in honor of two-year-old Max Chapman. The event included a Silent Auction reception on Wednesday night and a Golf Scramble and Reception on Thursday. I awoke on Friday with sore muscles, but still a huge smile and warm feeling in my heart. Todd Chapman, Tee It Up for the GFPD organizer, described the event as a miracle. I felt the magic in the air, the energy and excitement. It was palpable. That electric feeling was hope, SO much hope.

I have known Max’s parents, Todd and Corin Chapman, since the beginning of their relationship. We became friends in college and have had similar life paths since; marriage, buying houses, and having children. I met Max when he was about 7 months old, and while it was wonderful to meet the bright eyed, happy boy, I left our playdate with an unsettling feeling. I was scared. Scared that something bigger was yet to be uncovered about Max’s health. But I was more scared that I did not know how to be a good friend to Todd and Corin. I knew they needed support at this confusing time in their life and I did not know how to provide it. As Todd and Corin went through their journey in finding Max’s diagnosis, they were so open and honest in sharing their raw feelings, fears, and sadness. That willingness to openly share, gave the rest of their friends and family a connection to GFPD. Throughout the event I heard multiple organizers say they couldn’t believe the amazing response from the community. As I thought about it, I realized it is because Todd and Corin allowed us to see their struggle. They opened up during the hardest part of their life. Witnessing such vulnerability ignites a need to help. Supporting this event is one thing I knew I could do to help. Everyone who attended, volunteered or donated did so because it was one way we could contribute.

The magnitude of response was nothing short of amazing. The whole Chapman family is rooted in the community, where they have humbly served the Bloomington/Normal area for decades, building countless relationships. For this event they asked for help and the community overwhelmingly responded. Tickets for both events completely sold out. The silent auction included over 150 donated items. The volunteer staff was robust and plentiful. Even a State Senator and University President came to the events in show of support for the family and the cause. It is hard to adequately describe the support and love, but this story might help: One of the live auction items was a lovely, sizable diamond pendant necklace. Without hesitation, the winning bidders took possession of the prize and immediately gifted it to Corin. I still get teary eyed when I think about it because it was an amazing display of thoughtfulness, generosity, and love.

Todd and Corin, I know I do not speak alone when I say that I am so proud of what you accomplished in raising awareness and funds for the GFPD. You saw the potential and reached for it. That hope that permeated throughout the events—I want it to stay with you and spread to all the GFPD families. May you keep it with you and let it surround you like a warm embrace when you need it most.

Valerie Johnson

Mother of two

Photographer, Creative Blooms Photography

Photographs courtesy of Valerie Johnson and Todd Chapman

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