Golden Girls near $100,000 raised
Next brat fry for premature infant
By Scott Bellile
The Golden Girls of New London are gearing up for a milestone.
Just $688 away from six figures, the volunteer group anticipates that a brat fry on Saturday, Sept. 16, will surpass $100,000 given to struggling area families.
“It’s pretty emotional to know you’ve touched that many people in the community,” Golden Girl Cindy Keen said.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the community support,” Golden Girls founder Mary Thoma added.
All proceeds from Saturday’s brat fry will benefit Kaylynn Jaworski, daughter of Lindsey and Luke Jaworski.
Kaylynn is a 5-month-old New London baby who suffers from health complications due to a premature birth. She was born three months early on March 24, weighing 1 pound, 15 ounces.
Kaylynn has breathing problems and was recently diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, a treatable but not curable high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs. In June, she was also treated for retinopathy of prematurity, a common eye disorder in premature babies.
Once Kaylynn arrives home from the hospital, she will require an at-home nurse for eight to 12 hours a day, a ventilator and tube feedings. The Golden Girls aim to help Lindsey and Luke pay for Kaylynn’s rising medical bills.
Saturday’s brat fry will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside F.I.R.E. Fitness Camp, 318 Wolf River Plaza.
The Golden Girls have grilled up support for people going through serious injuries, cancer, ALS, organ transplants, heart surgeries and more.
The $100,000 milestone does not count other donations the Golden Girls have passed along to charitable organizations. Those include Appleton’s Harbor House, the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, the ALS Association and food pantries.
Thoma and Golden Girl Anne Christian estimated 35 to 40 local families have benefitted from brat fries since the organization formed in 2013.
Thoma, her sister Lana Mellin, Keen and Christian pioneered the Golden Girls of Anytime Fitness in 2013. It started as a group of women of all fitness levels getting together at Anytime Fitness to work out. It evolved into a volunteerism group devoted to helping those enduring tough circumstances.
The Korth family, which owned Anytime Fitness and supported the Golden Girls from the start, sold the gym to the Guyette family in 2016 and started F.I.R.E. Fitness Camp that September.
The Golden Girls of Anytime Fitness switched over to F.I.R.E. and changed their name to The Golden Girls of New London to broaden their scope. The Korths continue to provide space for brat fries and donations.
The Golden Girls have been recognized with multiple honors since their inception.
In 2015, Thoma was one of four Americans who accepted the Anytime Fitness National Member Success Story award. Thoma moved judges with her story of overcoming her grief by hitting the gym and dropping 100 pounds after her father died of ALS. Forming The Golden Girls with fellow gym members was key to her success story.
Last year, the Golden Girls won the New London Area Chamber of Commerce’s Community Service Award.
And last month, Thoma learned she is featured in “Love Work,” a motivational book written by Anytime Fitness co-founders Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen. Thoma said a small chapter is devoted to the formation of the Golden Girls.
“We are so proud,” Thoma said.
Four beneficiaries of the women’s brat fries have been lost along the way: Jim Pompa (1959-2015), Dawn (Marquardt) Kent (1963-2015), Jodi (Flease) Daul (1979-2015) and Traci (Beyer) Langenhuizen (1984-2016).
Sticking together and working out as a group carries the Golden Girls through those heartbreaking times, Thoma said, as does realizing the difference they are making. Thoma said the Golden Girls’ saying is “Helping others helps us.”
2017 has been the Golden Girls’ busiest year for brat fries, but they continue to look for new people to help. To suggest a local resident who could use a brat fry, contact Lana Mellin at 920-982-5800, Laurie Berg at 920-982-4950 or Alyssa Sullivan at 920-250-6250.
To track upcoming Golden Girls brat fries, follow The Golden Girls of New London WI on Facebook.