Judy Bilbo has spent most of her life on the outside looking in. The daughter of a United States Air Force airman and a Thai woman, she walked the line between two cultures and was never able to put down roots as a child. Now an employee of Blessing Health System and an Ironman athlete, she coaches several Quincy area runners.
Thirty-five years is a long time to hold on to anything painful, especially if you don't fully understand it. Jeff Snyder was 20 when he "proudly entered the U.S. Army." He was deployed to Vietnam in March 1971, but he didn't come back the same. "I still don't like crowds. I can't be in crowds. I can't be," he said.
Patrick Weppler's easy going nature has been put to the test more than once. His son, Jackson, was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer, in October 2012. When Jackson was 3, a doctor told Patrick and his wife, Leila, that Jackson would more than likely have to go to hospice. "You can't wrap your head around that. Neither of us would take no for an answer. I was just going to go from city to city until I found someone that said, 'Yes' (to performing a liver transplant)."
Dorothy Bizer can no longer tell her own story. That task is left to her husband, Bob. With the help of other church members, Bob erected a sort of memorial at Trinity Church, where Dorothy has been a member for almost 100 years.
Jim Wienhoff's life is on hold. After receiving a stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis in 2014, he was given six months to live without chemotherapy and three years with chemotherapy. He decided a third option was his best path. Wienhoff instead decided to pursue Gerson therapy, an alternative treatment method not approved by the FDA for use as a cancer treatment in the United States.
Sam Karoll's life experiences transcend his young age. Karoll, 26, was born in Atlanta and adopted by Monty and Laura Karoll of Quincy when he was 6 months old.
Through a civil war and several setbacks, Dr. Emmanuel Bessay never gave up his dream of practicing medicine. He is a native of Liberia, a country first formed as a colony for free-born American blacks.
A lifetime of advocating for others has helped Dawn Whitcomb open up about and cope with her son's suicide. Whitcomb found her son, Dylan Muldoon, after he committed suicide at 18 in November 2015, and she now suffers from PTSD. A breast cancer survivor, she had been an advocate for that cause. After Dylan's death, her focus shifted.
Everyone knows him as Toby Dick Ellis, but to his family, he is still Richard. Born in 1927 in Minneapolis, Richard Elsenpeter's early years came at the height of the Great Depression. "Nobody knew it," he said. "Everybody was poor, but you didn't know that. Everybody was in the same boat."
Dennis Boden has served his country as a soldier, his community as a police officer and his family by adopting an orphaned relative. "My wife told me once, ‘In your lifetime, there's only been three things you've ever stuck with. Me being the first, and I thank you very much for that, but you've always stuck with your work and the military.'"