Community holds benefit in honor of Hadley Hartman

Published 8:16 am Wednesday, May 22, 2013

When one Butler County family faltered in a time of tragedy, several others lent a helping hand to pick them back up.

Hadley Hartman, daughter of Joshua and Lauren Hartman, was diagnosed with a stage-four rhabdoid tumor in February of 2013, just prior to turning six months old.

Several compassionate members of the community decided to hold a horse show and family fun day with the purpose of raising money for Hadley’s medical bills, but earlier this month her brief battle with cancer ended.

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Despite the inherent sadness surrounding the day’s events, Saturday’s message was one of positivity and remembrance of the way a young girl was able to touch thousands of lives, despite her short time with those she influenced and inspired.

As such, the benefit began with a prayer urging participants to remember that it was not the time for tears or downheartedness, but for joy in celebrating Hadley’s life, and it was an uplifting message that resonated throughout the duration of the program.

Delana Duke, co-coordinator of the Benefit for Hadley, is one such person who was touched not only by her passing, but also by her young life and the impact she had on others.

Duke’s recent personal experiences as a mother also struck a chord.

“I’m really close to some of Hadley’s relatives, and I just had a son seven months ago,” Duke said. “Their circumstances just really touched my heart, and I just really felt like I had to do something for the family.”

When the Hartmans asked her not to cancel the benefit program, apprehension was the first thing to set in.

“I was nervous, and I didn’t know if the family and everybody would accept it,” Duke said. “I wasn’t sure, so I just prayed about it and everybody agreed to get on board, so we just continued with the plans.”

Duke’s prayer did not fall on deaf ears, as many prominent businesses throughout Greenville committed to sponsoring the event.

But perhaps the biggest contributions came from the community itself.

The event’s itinerary included horse riding, homemade costume competitions, face paintings from the Greenville High School cheerleaders, moon bounces for small children and an assortment of entertainment catered to the young and old alike.

The Dukes also enlisted the help of some of Butler County’s most talented musicians to take to the stage, including the multitalented singer and actress Stacey Edwards and local music legend Rock Killough.

Despite Hadley’s brief time with her loved ones, her benefit program proved that the mark she left on those that knew her, as well as those that didn’t, is one that will last forever.