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Are We There Yet?: Remembering Harley

By Rebecca Dravis
iberkshires Staff

No one should ever have to suffer the pain of losing a child.

As a parent of a child with two autoimmune diseases, I face that terror perhaps more often than most parents. But I'm sure anyone reading this column, any parent, would feel nothing short of sheer despair should something happen to their child.

That's why I cried when I heard about Harley Ogle.

I heard about the death of this Pittsfield second-grader from my mother, who used to work with Harley's grandmother. She hesitated when telling me, obviously sensitive to my own situation with my daughter. Harley died in his sleep; my daughter has type 1 diabetes, and most type 1 kids who die do so in their sleep. When she told me, my heart ached for this family. She told me how she and Harley's grandmother had become grandmas around the same time: He was born just a few months after my own daughter, and while they worked together they shared pictures and stories of their beautiful grandbabies as they grew into infants and toddlers and little kids. This year, they both entered second grade, my daughter with her health issues and Harley with some of his own.

But my daughter made it to her 8th birthday. Harley died this spring just a couple weeks before his own 8th birthday. My mother went to the wake and cried hard, both for Harley and for the fear she feels as the grandmother of my daughter. In fact, she cried so hard that Harley's grandmother came to check on HER the following week to make sure SHE was all right.

I share this story not to be have a depressing column this week. I share it to urge you to help turn Harley's death into something positive. 

This Sunday, May 18, Harley will be remembered with a benefit at the Back Nine Bar & Grill, 303 Crane Ave., Pittsfield, from 3 to 10 p.m. There will be food, raffles and live music by Rev Tor, Domino Theory, B.A. Dario, Longview Gunslingers, and Chris Merenda. All proceeds will support the Pittsfield Family YMCA licensed elementary school-age programs, which Harley attended at Williams Elementary School. Attendees who provide school supply donations will receive two free raffle tickets; supplies that are needed include board games, arts and crafts, markers, scissors, UNO cards, Jenga, paper, books, sidewalk chalk, glue/glue sticks, pencils and erasers and Legos.

Tickets are $10 and are available at Nichols Package Store, Wheeler's Market in Lanesborough and at the Pittsfield Family YMCA. For more information, contact family friend Lindsay Dambrauskas at 413-212-1479.

If you want to know more about Harley and the lives he touched in his short time on Earth, visit the Facebook page set up in his honor. Be sure to have a box of tissues handy, and hug your own kids a little harder tonight.

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.

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Are We There Yet?: Gone To The Dogs

By Rebecca Dravis
iBerkshires Staff

"Peanuts" cartoonist Charles M. Schulz once wrote five very wise words: “Happiness is a warm puppy.” 

This Saturday, May 3, dogs take center stage at both ends of Berkshire County. 

First, in Williamstown, the annual Humane Race to benefit the Berkshire Humane Society starts at 10 a.m. on Water Street. Rain or shine (unfortunately, it's looking like rain, and no one ever said happiness is a wet puppy), this 12th annual 5K Fun Run and One Mile Walk - with or without your dog - will offer a day of outdoor entertainment for the entire family.  The race begins at 10 a.m., with check-in and race day registration starting at 8 a.m. Finish line festivities will include music, games, prizes and food booths. Race Day Registration is $20 for adults and $15 for children. To learn more about the event, visit www.humanerace.org.

Then, later in the day, people can come to the Mason Library in Great Barrington from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. to meet Jori, the Great Barrington police dog, and his officer, Tim Ullrich. Jori will do a sniffing demonstration, and show his knowledge of signals and commands. Jori, a German shepherd from Slovakia, became the town’s first K-9 officer in 2011. His arrival was truly a community affair: to bring Jori to town, the department raised $30,000 from 26 donors to pay for veterinary bills, retrofitting of one of the police vehicles and setting up a donation account to cover future costs.

If you're looking for something to do with the kids on Sunday, May 4, head to Dalton for the annual Dalton CRA May Day Race & Obstacles and Popsicles for Kids. A 5K and 10K race start at 9:30 a.m., but the fun for kids starts at 10:30 a.m. The race happens behind Nessacus Middle School; the kids do not go on any roads. Those 8 and under will run half a mile and those 9 to 12 will run a mile. The races include fun obstacles and all finishers get a ribbon and freeze pop; awards will be given to the top three boys and girls in each age group. The cost is $6.

And as we are winding down to the end of the school year, I wanted to share a link to a funny blog I read online about how the last few weeks of school feel for parents. Read it here and I hope you laugh as much as I did!

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.

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