Dunmorean of the Month: Tommy Williams

Dunmorean of the Month - Tommy WilliamsBy Emily Fedor

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in 700 babies in the United States is born with Down Syndrome. That’s about 6,000 each year.

In honor of March 21 being World Down Syndrome Day, the Dunmorean is proud to recognize one of the borough’s youngest residents as this month’s “Dunmorean of the Month.”

Tommy Williams is one year old. Come July 19, that number will change to two.

His parents, Julie and Mark, say he’s just like any other toddler. He loves to play catch, crawl around the house and, of course, play with his big brother Alex and big sister Kelcey.

“He’s full of life. He loves to play and laugh,” his mom Julie said.

The only thing that’s a little different about Tommy is that he was born with an extra chromosome.

The Williams first learned of the diagnosis from an ultrasound performed when Julie was 20 weeks pregnant. The scan showed three soft markers or possible indicators that Tommy could have Down Syndrome.

And months later when Tommy was born, that possibility turned out to be a reality. Doctors told Julie and Mark their new baby boy did in fact have Down Syndrome specifically, Trisomy 21, which is the most common type of Down Syndrome.

As you may know, people who have Down Syndrome may look and learn a little differently, but that doesn’t mean Tommy or others who have the condition can’t live life to the fullest.

Every week, Tommy spends hours in therapy to ensure that. He’s been going through both physical and occupational therapy sessions since he was just a few months old. And now that he’s a little older and starting to use his vocal chords, he’ll soon be starting speech therapy too.

As for how long those sessions will last, well, that’s all up to Tommy.

“Therapists say it’s all up to what Tommy does. Every kid is different. They don’t go at the same pace,” said Julie. “So it’s up to him. We’ll just see what he does.”

So everyone can see what Tommy’s doing, Julie Williams decided to create a Facebook page called “Tommy’s Troopers.”

“So many people wanted to see Tommy and wanted to follow him,” she said. “So I thought, why don’t I just make a page? That way anyone who wants to follow Tommy can just go to this page.”

Dunmorean of the Month - Williams Family

The Williams Family is shown here sporting their “Down with Tommy Shirts” outside the borough building. From left, Julie, Tommy, Kelcey, Mark and Alex Williams.

On the Tommy’s Troopers page, Julie posts milestones that Tommy has reached, such as his first words: “boo” and “hi.” She also shares details for fundraisers and events aiming to raise awareness for her son’s condition, as well as information from “Nothing Down” a non-profit organization for which Tommy is an ambassador.

The community of Bucktown always rallies around its own, and this little guy is no exception. To show that Dunmore is down with Tommy, borough officials even went as far as proclaiming October 20 as “Tommy Williams Down Syndrome Awareness Day” this past fall.

According to a report from the TImes Tribune, council President Michael McHale said, “It’s rare that we as council are without words, but we couldn’t be more happy and more proud of this fellow Dunmorean.”

“Dunmore is just so supportive of him,” said Julie. “I run into people and they’ll say “Hi Tommy,” and I don’t know who they are. People just know him, and I’m glad Dunmore is so supportive of all kids in our area.”

Julie says she wants people to know one thing about her son’s condition, and that is despite how scary the condition may seem, it’s really not scary at all.

“There’s nothing scary about Down Syndrome. When I was pregnant and found out, it was scary for me,” said Julie, “but Tommy is no different than my other two children. He’s so lovable, and he’s just a normal little kid.”

For more information about Down Syndrome, feel free to visit NothingDown.org.

Successful Soccer Season for Lady Bucks Comes to an End

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By Emily Fedor

Dunmore High School senior Gillian Coar and the rest of the Lady Bucks soccer team have scored one goal after another this year. Literally.

Over the course of her four-year soccer career, Coar — a striker — has scored more than 90 goals, slashing the previous school record of 41 goals set back in 2008. This season alone, she scored 34.

The Division MVP is also one of the soccer team’s four co-captains.

DHS Girl's Soccer - Gillian Coar

Senior striker Gillian Coar now holds the record for most career goals scored at Dunmore High School.

The Lady Bucks finished their regular season with a record of 9-2-2 — a stat that earned them the Division IV championship title. Coached under Dunmore High School graduates and former soccer starters Matt DeVivo and Megan Dempsey, the girls then went on to battle for the District 2 AA title.

This level of play was nothing new to the Lady Bucks. Last year, they were the PIAA District 2 runner-ups and advanced to the first round of state playoffs.

This year, the girls were ranked second going into district play, earning them an automatic spot in the quarterfinals.

That October 26th match against the Western Wayne Wildcats went into overtime, after neither team scored during the first two halves of regular play. But that overtime didn’t last very long. Less than a minute in, Coar shot and she scored, bringing home the ‘W’ for the Lady Bucks with a final score of 1-0.

Two days later on October 28th, the girls faced Montrose in a semi-final match-up. With a high-scoring machine in Coar, they had a good chance, no doubt. But the Lady Meteors had a weapon of their own in Maddy Gilhool. The Montrose junior striker scored once in each half of Saturday’s game — handing the Lady Bucks a heartbreaking 2-0 loss.

***

The Lady Bucks’ finished the 2017-2018 season with a record of 10-3-2. While all involved hoped the journey would last a little longer, ending the season as one of the top four teams in their district is not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.

Multiple members of the team have also been acknowledged by being named first and second team all-stars. Those players named first team all-stars include Gillian Coar, fellow seniors Lexi Fangio and Olivia Ortiz, junior Emma Coar and sophomore Mia Chiaro.

The second team picks include junior Tommi Jane Golden and freshman Olivia Leo.  

Dunmore Farmers Market Now Open for Second Season

Farmers Market Banner

By Emily Fedor

Last summer, the lot that has sat empty and barren for years along the 200 block of East Drinker Street was given new purpose, filled with new life and stocked with lots of fresh produce. Now, the Dunmore Farmers Market is back open and ready for a successful second season.

The idea of a farmers market in the town of the Bucks was batted around for years. Then in June of 2016, that idea blossomed into a reality with a bit of a push from Borough Councilman Tom Hallinan and the late Karl Wegforth.

“We finally just said ‘Let’s run with it,’” said Hallinan. “I asked Karl if he wanted to participate, and he was more than willing. He adopted it like it was his son and was there every Saturday. He’s a big part of it that’s going to be missing this year.”

wegforth

Karl Wegforth of Dunmore passed away on January 22, 2017 at the age of 63.

Wegforth passed away in January at the age of 63. He was a graduate of Dunmore High School, a former animal control officer for the borough and owner of the old Weggy’s Bar. But many knew him as president of the Dunmore Historical Society.

Last year, he and Hallinan worked together to round up a number of area vendors to set up shop every Saturday during the summer.

A major purpose of the market is to offer shoppers the opportunity to buy locally made products. Borough Business Administrator Vito Ruggiero says it also serves as a way to highlight the restaurants and shops based in the borough of Dunmore.

“The borough is invested in our business district and our town,” said Ruggiero. “So to try and create a one stop shop for all of our residents and get the businesses involved is what we’re trying to do. We’re hoping that the buzz gets out there.”

This year, the farmers market will feature several returning vendors as well as plenty of newcomers, who will be selling everything from sunflowers and fresh baked goods to lipsticks and hairbows.

sunflowerHallinan says the market is also welcoming non-profit groups to set up shop this year. They simply have to contact the borough to reserve a spot.

Helene Hopkins, owner of the Scranton-based Mulberry Bush, is bringing fresh produce and flowers to the farmers market for the second year. She says participating in the farmers market has brought new customers to her business.

“It’s always good to get out in the community and let people know what you have,” said Hopkins. “It sounds funny, but a lot of people from Dunmore have said ‘Oh, we had no idea you were there!’”

Jena Romanini, owner of Savvy Home on Blakely Street, is also a returning vendor. This year, her stand will feature a number of products including soy candles and goat milk soaps, as well as some urban-farm style home decor.

As her business is relatively new, Romanini said the market has really helped get her get the word out. She says she’s also enjoyed seeing people come out to enjoy everything the borough has to offer.

“When you drive through Dunmore anymore, it’s not like it used to be on Saturdays,”  said Romanini. “When the farmers market’s going on, It’s nice to see people walking through and cars parked everywhere.”  

Securing a spot each Saturday comes at no cost to vendors. Hallinan emphasizes the goal of the farmers market is not necessarily to make money, but to highlight the Bucktown business district.

historical societyThat being said, at the end of this season, vendors have been asked to make a donation to the Dunmore Historical Society in the name of the market’s co-founder, Karl Wegforth.

“Karl was the type of guy who liked getting involved in things that brought people together,” said Ruggiero. “He’s smiling because he sees [the market] is continuing and that more people are getting involved.”

This year, there are more vendors involved than the last, and the hope is that this trend will continue. And when that hopefully happens, Hallinan and Ruggiero say the parking lot adjacent to the VFW building on Chestnut Street could also become home to some market vendors.

The Dunmore Farmers Market is open for business on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. now until September 2.