Though not unheard of, these birds don't ordinarily hang out around here. I felt honored to be temporarily part of The Red-Headed League.
Anyway, after such a nice and lengthy newspaper piece about Erin last Saturday, I was stunned to see that The Eagle Editorial Board chose her as the subject of their Sunday editorial (on Easter Sunday, no less).
Eagle Editorial Board
Erin Buenger spent her 11 years living life to the fullest. She had what most likely was a fatal illness, yet that didn't dampen her enthusiasm for life, her eagerness to try new things and, most importantly, her great love of people.
Erin lost her seven-year battle with neuroblastoma on Thursday, but she leaves behind a host of people who loved her and a community that will miss her.
Many people faced with a disease for which there is no known cure would shut themselves off from people, would wallow in their illness, but not Erin. She attacked life with a zest that was exhilarating and contagious. She played on a competitive soccer team. She rode horses. She took fencing lessons.
With one terrible exception, Erin was a normal school girl -- the way she wanted to be treated. A bright student, she was active in the Inquiry Academy for gifted and talented students at Jane Long Middle School. She made the honor role every six weeks and never earned less than a 96 on her report card. She was treasurer of the student council.
Erin was determined to beat the disease. She twice traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress and, really, anyone who would listen to her. She talked with U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards and garnered his support for a bill that would commit $150 million in federal money to finding a cure for neuroblastoma and other cancers. Her father said Edwards in turn convinced several other members of the House to vote for the measure, which finally passed the Congress and was signed into law by President George W. Bush last July. Now, the harder part is making sure the measure gets funded.
In addition to getting Edwards' support, she made him a special friend, one who called on her at home and who visited her only two weeks before her death.
Erin had that ability. She could connect and make friends with people of any age. She didn't ant people to be sad.
And she worked hard to raise money to fund research on neuroblastoma. She made lanyards for ID badges and sold them, raising some $2,000 for cancer research. She worked on a cookbook -- Erin Cook's -- using recipes she developed herself in the hospital. When it is available, proceeds from the book will go to research.
Some of us go through life never creating a ripple, leaving no legacy. Not Erin Buenger, though. She packed a lot in 11 years and this community is better because she lived among us.
I may eventually get a savable copy of the television news story that also aired on Sunday, but for now I can send you to this link (sorry, in advance, for the commerical that comes before the story):
Ashlea Sigman of KBTX News came out to the house on Sunday afternoon before the visitation/party/celebration to work on the story. I worried because she had forty-five minutes of tape that she had to edit down to 90 seconds (I told her I sympathized with the problem of needing to express Erin as a haiku, when she really was an epic poem). By the time this aired she had talked her boss into more than double the air time she had originally been given. I'm glad some of you who live out of town can catch a glimpse of Erin's bedroom. Just a glance shows the many directions her interests spread.