LYNDON CENTER -- Holding signs showing their love and support for Zachary Hartwell, the students, faculty and staff at Lyndon Institute turned out for a group photo on the school's football field Tuesday morning then walked to show support for the young man fighting a recurrence of brain cancer.
Jean Wheeler, a longtime faculty member at LI, said, "A community supporting a... teen fighting cancer who never gives up. He has taught us all so much about being a champion."
Shortly after 10:30 a.m., the main doors of the school opened and hundreds of people praying for Zach and his family streamed from all corners of campus to gather together on the football field.
The walk was shortened from original plans to go along Stevens Loop due to the weather, said Lyndonville Police Chief Jack Harris, who was standing by for traffic control. The chief's son, Jason, is one of Zach's best friends, and a member of Zachary's Angels, the Relay For Life team that has rallied in his and his family's support the past two years at the annual Relay for Life of Caledonia County event.
Donations to help the Hartwell family are being collected through LI and can be mailed to: The Zach Project; c/o Lyndon Institute, Jean Wheeler, PO Box 127, Lyndon Center, VT 05850. The school is also selling T shirts, which are $10 each. People can let Wheeler know if they would like to order T shirts, Wheeler said on Tuesday.
Reached this week in Boston, where she is at her son's side, Nancy Rexford Hartwell said, "We are overwhelmed by the support that we have received from the entire community. We are truly blessed to live here. Everywhere we go people reach out to us and it is quite humbling."
"LI, students, faculty and staff, have been there to help navigate our way as we juggle treatments with giving Zach as normal a life as possible. Whatever he needs, they make sure that he has it," said a grateful Hartwell. Her husband was part of the walk at LI on Tuesday.