Beaver Dam Woman Makes Final Selfless Act for St. Jude
Some stories are hard to write, but have to be written and shared. I was informed Sunday afternoon that my friend Melissa Chinn of Beaver Dam passed away unexpectedly Friday night. Her death was tragic, unexpected and completely out of the blue. But it's what she did just fifteen minutes before her death that summarizes the life she led.
I have known Melissa for years. We have crossed paths at many concerts, benefits and events. In fact, she's one of the local faces I count on seeing each year at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville. Melissa has been a member of the Kentucky State Fair Little Miss and Mister Pageant committee for three and a half decades. I would always see her in the Expo hall on opening day of the Fair . . . signing in contestants, welcoming the beauty queens there to assist them, joking around with volunteers and always trying to get me in a pageant shirt that was about four sizes to small.
I also knew Melissa through her family's support of young cancer patient Harlie Bryant. It was Melissa's son-in-law, Jason Tierney, who showed up to a Battle for the Big O audition to play a song he had written for Harlie. He didn't necessarily care about the contest. He and his family had a story to share and tell. They wanted to rally the troops behind this young girl in a fight for her life.
As Melissa's daughter, Mary, explained to me Sunday afternoon . . . her mom lived to help others. And that's exactly what she did. As a matter of fact, that's the very last thing she did Friday before leaving us.
Melissa and the family were en route to Breckinridge County High School Friday night for a basketball game and were tuned into the St. Jude Radiothon here on WBKR. Her daughter Mary called in to become a St. Jude Partner-in-Hope. And so did Melissa. For the first time ever. She had listened for years and always felt compelled to do it. And three days ago, finally did it.
And that selfless act of kindness was her final act on Earth. Moments later, in the restroom at the game, Melissa died . . . without warning or notice.
Melissa is being laid to rest Wednesday in Ohio County and her family, to honor her decision to support St. Jude, is encouraging expressions of sympathy be made to the hospital. And Melissa's daughter Mary assures me that fundraising in Melissa's name will continue throughout the year.
When I talked with Mary Sunday afternoon, we chatted about how people impact other people. You may not know it when it happens, but impacts have lasting, if not immediate effects. So many people were impacted by Melissa.
I was definitely impacted by her and I am going to miss her. I am going to miss seeing that smiling face each opening the day of the Kentucky State Fair. I am going to miss my annual hug. And I am going to miss her trying to convince me to put on an official Little Miss and Mister Pageant shirt that's sized for toddlers.
And I must add this. Mary's right about impact. I understand that Melissa was impacted by the St. Jude stories that we share each year during the radiothon. But now she's part of that story. And her story . . . despite it's unexpected and unfortunate ending . . . is going to have its own impact. Melissa's story isn't over. This particular chapter is just getting started.