We must share word of the passing of a dear friend of ours who has joined us on the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon every year since 1989.
Helen McKinney passed away Tuesday night after battling Lou Gehrig's Disease for 22 years.
Helen McKinney first appeared on the MDA telethon here on WCTV in 1989. A few years earlier she had been diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, and from then on she joined us every year with a check in hand.
Thelma Caldwell, her daughter, said, "It gave me strength and courage to see mom, despite her disability, the things she had gone through in life; she still was willing to reach out and say, I can help."
McKinney's daughter, Thelma Caldwell, brought her mother to the telethon each year and has snapshots all around her house to prove it.
At first she came with a walker, then in a wheelchair, calling that opportunity to give back one of the greatest blessings of her life.
Lou Gehrig's Disease wound up weakening McKinney's muscles and her heart, and Tuesday it claimed her life at the age of 77.
Thelma Caldwell added, "We knew, unfortunately, that this day was coming, but we're grateful and we thank God that he allowed mom to say with us these many years."
Over the years Miss Helen raised more than $10,000 for Jerry's Kids young and old. Funeral arrangements are still in the works. All of us at WCTV want to send our condolences to Miss Helen's family and thank them for taking such good care of her all these years. The telethon won't be the same without her.