September started uneventfully for our family, with “life as usual” on a not-so-usual street. My husband, Matt, and I have five children, age 12 down to 3, and a fantastic family and support system within 1000 feet of our home. My parents, Gary & Debbie Summers , live two houses down on Racquet Club Drive and my sister and brother-in-law, Katie & Nathan Crews (who were expecting a new baby girl any day as of early-September), and their three boys living two houses down from there. There’s never a dull moment, and my parents live smack dab in the middle of it all. Those who know them know they live generously and have a lot of love to give. And many who know Gary, who has been an instrumental part of everything VCP from day-one, might best describe him as a guy with a “big heart.”

On September 14, after some “suspicious heart episodes” (deemed an undiagnosed heart attack by the cardiologist), further testing led to Gary being admitted to the ICU and then scheduled for immediate triple bypass surgery. It seemed impossible that the strongest guy we knew actually had a heart that was failing him. In the moment the cardiologist shared the news that dad might have had only three months to live without intervention, we were reminded again of how fleeting our lives are, putting all in perspective. Dad took the news with a full heart—full of love for his family and strong in his faith of a loving Heavenly Father.

It was a bewildering couple of days, but dad came through the surgery beautifully and returned from the hospital last week. We are overjoyed to have him back on Racquet Club Drive, resting and recovering. While we have all forbidden him from returning to heavy lifting at the VCP anytime soon, he finds plenty to occupy his down time with planning and dreaming of new possibilities for giving and serving through our organization. The other highlight of our month was my sister and brother-in-law welcoming the newest member of the VCP (and their household) into the world on September 26—baby Pippa Kathryn Crews . Pippa graciously entered the world a week past her due date, not wanting to steal the spotlight from her Poppa as he went through surgery.

Through the ups and downs of the month, it has been wonderful to see so many friends and neighbors rally in support of our family. I cannot thank you enough for the prayers, meals, notes, and kind words you’ve bestowed upon us all.

Many of you have faced similar situations or know someone who has suffered a loss within our community. If you know of someone who could use the heart-lifting gesture of a home-cooked meal, a friend to stop by and visit, or help in some other practical way, please bring the need to our attention by e-mailing villageclubpreserve@gmail.com . We would love to lend a helping hand.

While we all have different support systems and networks at our schools, churches, at work or through other groups and teams we are a part of, I’m reminded and hopeful that through The Village Club & Preserve, neighbors will get to know each other as friends as we strengthen community ties with those around us. That we’ll take a minute to pause and loo k at our neighbors in a new light, and maybe get to know a side of them we may never have before out on the grounds of the VCP.

I’m excited, too, that the VCP will be a destination for health and fitness. A key element of our mission is the role our Friends of the Village play in modeling a healthy, active lifestyle for our youth and encouraging adults to become or remain active throughout their lives. You’ve likely seen the announcements for our November 17 Inaugural “Run for the Villag e” 5K & Fun Run. If you’d like to join me on “Team #BigHeart,” our family will be out walking the 5K in support of my dad, with my dad, as he celebrates the two-month anniversary of his surgery. If you’ve been impacted by heart disease, want to kickstart to a new fitness regimen, or just want to support Gary, please pop me an e-mail and I’ll add you to the team (which just means we will get pumped up together for the event and have a great team of new friends to walk or run with on November 17). We hope to see you there!

With a grateful heart,