Each Spring, Tu Nidito takes a moment to honor five Remarkable Moms in our community. Each mom goes above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of children and families. As we celebrate 20 years of serving children, we are proud to have celebrated 87 Remarkable Moms, each one a role model for their children and our community. While they all come from different backgrounds, with different experiences in grief, they all have one thing in common – they are Remarkable.
This year Tu Nidito is honored to announce Bonnie Allinder, Amy Haskell, Corby Lust, Jeanette Clifton and Donna McDermott as our 2016 Remarkable Moms.
Words that have been used to describe 2016 Remarkable Mom, Bonnie Allinder: Loving, genuine, kind, thoughtful, generous, fun, happy, philanthropic, confident, passionate and…REMARKABLE! Mother to Michael Reuss and Melissa Wood, Bonnie is described as a strong, compassionate, independent woman who is a wonderful role model for young women in our community. Born in Willmar, Minnesota, she and her husband Delbert (Del) became Arizona “Snow Birds” up until 6 years ago when they became permanent Tucsonans. She and Del together believe in the mission of Tu Nidito and have loved and supported Tu Nidito for many years. It was Del’s unconditional love and belief in Bonnie that has fueled her passion and generosity over the years. Though Del fell ill and passed away April of 2015, Bonnie continues, as she always has, making an impact in the lives of the children in the community of Southern Arizona. In addition to Tu Nidito, her generosity has reinforced many other worthwhile causes including the Tucson Medical Center, American Cancer Society, Casa De Los Ninos, and The American Heart Association, to name a few. When asked what her proudest moments as a mom were, Bonnie reflected on her son, Michael, becoming a police officer, the moment she first met her wonderful grandson, Jack, her daughter Melissa’s wedding and the successful opening of Aria Salon here in Tucson. Bonnie has opened her home to many organizations and artists to help promote them. Many individuals have a better life today because of her. Bonnie is truly “Remarkable” and never hesitates to selflessly give her heart and soul to those less fortunate.
“Corby has taught all of us that life is not measured by unrealistic expectations, but rather by miraculous milestones and brief unexpected moments of happiness,” remarks Dan Lust, husband to Remarkable Mom, Corby Lust. As a loving wife, mother of two boys with special needs and Nurse Manager at Banner University Medical Center, Corby is heavily involved within Tucson’s community as an active participant in various blood disorder caregiver panels and helps with education seminars for the Cascade Foundation of Southern Arizona. “Through my kids, I learned the ability to advocate and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves,” reflects Corby. Days after their first son, Hogan, was born, Corby and Dan’s lives as parents changed forever as they rushed him into emergency surgery after he suffered a severe intracranial hemorrhage. Not long after he was diagnosed with Hemophilia, more complications entered when he developed an inhibitor to his treatment. Corby immersed herself into learning all that was available about bleeding disorders and how to manage their son’s medical condition. Shortly after their second son, Parker, was born with the same genetic condition and suffered a brain hemorrhage only a few hours after birth, Corby made it her mission to help other families dealing with the same disorder and by educating the community. Corby feels that their children are their inspiration for the battles that they have overcome and the battles they continue to fight every day. “Raising children with health complications has not been a burden, it has not been inconvenient and most certainly has not been a mistake,” says Dan. He describes Corby as “the rock” in the family who never once has shown a sign of weakness. She is truly a Remarkable Mom.
Amy Haskell is a very talented local photographer and mother to seven year old daughter, Presley. She donates her professional services to the families of Tu Nidito children who have a parent with cancer or other serious medical condition. Amy also volunteers her professional services for the University of Arizona, Mt. Lemmon Restoration Fund and has spent years volunteering her time and talent as the photographer for the Glassman Foundation supporting Fine Arts in our community’s schools. In 2012, shortly after the death of her husband, Jim, who had lost his battle to cancer, Amy and her daughter began attending Tu Nidito’s bereavement support group. From her own experiences with the loss of her husband, she knew how powerful a family photograph can be. Amy has donated countless hours with Tu Nidito families, capturing moments of love that will always be treasured and she provides these families with an album of beautiful, timeless photos. She intends to continue offering her professional services to Tu Nidito families indefinitely, in the hopes to ensure that every Tu Nidito family with a parent with cancer of other serious medical condition has this opportunity to look back on these moments of love illustrated through her photographs.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Remarkable Mom, Donna McDermott has lived in Tucson for 31 years and is the proud mother of two children, Sara and Kyle. When asked about the highlights in her life to this point, she reflected on falling in love and marrying her husband Scott, the birth of her children, graduating from the University of Arizona with a Masters of Fine Arts and watching both of her children graduate from college. “They have been through so much and have become such amazing young adults – I am so proud of their accomplishments,” says Donna. In September of 2005, while waiting for a stop light at Glenn and Mountain Avenue, Donna and her husband Scott were struck by a 19 year-old drunk driver. Scott died instantly and Donna, after being resuscitated, was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, having suffered several serious injuries. Relocating temporarily to Chicago to undergo intensive therapy, Donna learned how to walk, talk and think cognitively again. After seven months, Donna returned to Tucson to be with her children while continuing her recovery at home. Donna took her grief and applied it to a passionate involvement with her family and community. She has spent the last 10 years dedicated to educating parents about underage drinking and volunteers on Victim Impact Panels for MADD. In Scott’s honor, Donna created the Sunflower Project, an endowed fund that gives underprivileged students the opportunity to attend Salpointe Catholic High School. To Donna, sunflowers symbolize light, happiness and optimism. On the corner of the intersection where the tragedy occurred, there is beauty in the form of metal sunflowers, a tribute that Donna arranged in honor of the love she and her husband shared. “I am blessed and grateful to have survived the unthinkable,” says Donna. “To me, being here, being alive is very remarkable.”
“Every day is a gift.” These are the words Remarkable Mom, Jeanette Clifton, lives by. As a loving wife and mother to four boys, and having overcome the sudden loss of her third son Brian, as well as surviving Uterine Cancer herself, Jeanette understands how valuable moms are and the serious impact death and serious illness can have on a family. Jeanette has always been the inspiration to those around her, never allowing grief to control her life. She has been a true role model not just for her own children but for the community as well. Born and raised in Michigan, Jeanette and her husband Rodger moved to Tucson in 1974 with their children and fell in love with the Southwest. “We love this city, the mixture of cultures and all of the opportunities and adventures that we have had in the mountains and deserts of the region.” Dedicating over 60 years of her life to helping others, her desire to give and provide for others has never changed. In Puerto Penasco, Mexico, Jeanette and Rodger founded an orphanage, a home for the elderly and they helped to develop and build low income housing and ensured that countless children had access to proper elementary and secondary education. In Tucson she and her husband have been tireless volunteers and advocates for those less fortunate. Currently, Jeanette is working with Sister Jose’s Women’s Shelter and helping them obtain resources to find this organization a permanent shelter and housing space. She and her husband also volunteer and provide financial support to Tucson’s Casa Maria Soup Kitchen. “Living to be 80 years old feels remarkable,” says Jeanette, who believes that the secret to a long marriage is having a good sense of humor, commitment, respect and luck. Jeanette is truly selfless and she touches hearts, changing lives with her gifts of time and treasure.
A special thank you to all of our Remarkable Moms for helping to make our community a better place. Join us in celebrating these five Remarkable Moms on Saturday, May 7th at Westin La Paloma.
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