Lift for Lawson

“Lift for Lawson” raises over $40,000


By Jonathan Martin


It looks like Lawson White will get his lift.

An estimated 750 people packed shoulder-to-shoulder in G. L. Heritage Brewing Co. throughout Friday night to raise money for the three-year-old.  His parents, Ryan and Cadi White, walked away with more than $40,000 in their pockets.

Lawson was born with neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia, which prevented his blood from clotting and resulted in a brain hemorrhage. He has since developed cerebral palsy and is completely blind.

As Lawson got older, he got heavier and being carried up and down the stairs by hand got harder.  His parents decided it was time to install a lift in their home.  The Garage Gym, Amherstburg Chevrolet, Integrity Tool and Mold, Team D’Alimonte Royal LePage and G. L. Heritage Brewing Company joined forces to raise funds for the equipment’s construction.

Marisa Willms tries to beat the SkiErg world record of 2,000m in seven minutes and 11 seconds at G. L. Heritage Brewing Co. last Friday. Willms, who held the previous record, ended up four seconds short.

A wrench was thrown into the plan, though, when the contractor found black mould in the walls of the Whites’ house.

“When I bought the house, I looked in the attic, I looked in the basement and everything was fine,” Ryan said.  “We never would have noticed this if we hadn’t (started building) this elevator.”

Ryan said the house’s previous owners put vinyl siding over aluminum siding.  Water sneaks in behind the soffit, runs between the two sidings and leaks into the house through the sidings’ anchor holes.

The Whites said they’ve cordoned off the 30-foot construction area with plastic sheets and have had air samples taken of the site.   They said they have a specialist coming in later this week to look at thermal images of the rest of the house, in case the mould isn’t isolated to that area.

Nonetheless, they said Lawson’s lift should be installed this week.  The Whites said they had been placed on a six-month waiting list when they first scheduled the installation and would likely have to wait another six months if they were to postpone.

The mould has been cleaned up in the lift’s construction area, so they plan to move forward with the project.

They said they are “extremely grateful” to have been given the funds needed to make it happen.

Jennifer Grondin is one of the co-owners of G. L. Heritage Brewing Co., where Friday’s fundraiser was held.

“It is outstanding and amazing, the way this community has come together,” she said tearfully.

Ryan White speaks beside his wife, Cadi, at the Lift for Lawson fund raiser, held at G. L. Heritage Brewing Co. in Amherstburg on Friday, April 6, 2018. The event raised more than $40,000 for the Whites to build an elevator for their son, Lawson.

“The support and the turnout had been incredible.”

Tony Smith is one of the owners of Garage Gym.  He said Ryan and Cadi were two of his first customers and have become his personal friends.

“When you call your community to action and you get hundreds of people showing up to let (Cadi and Ryan) know how much we care about them, that’s something entirely outside of fund-raising,” he said.

Cadi burst into tears when the fund raiser’s numbers were announced.  Ryan stood, motionless, looking dazed, until his wife grabbed his shirt.

“The number of people who have offered to help us is stunning,” he said.  “Somebody hooked up air filters in our house for free to be sure we’re breathing clean air, we had somebody contact us with an offer to do our air sampling for free, we’ve been contacted by construction companies and we’ve had friends reach out to us with offers to help. It’s all so overwhelming.”

“Even just the people who sent us a ‘thinking of you’ note,” Cadi said, her voice still shaky.  “Even that level of generosity is so strength-giving.”

Despite everything, the couple said Lawson, the “light of (their) lives,” is a lucky boy, and they feel lucky too.


Local athletes push themselves to new limits as part of “Lift for Lawson”

By Jonathan Martin


As three-year-old Lawson White struggles with his physicality, local athletes have come together to push their own bodies to their limits.

Friday’s Lift for Lawson fund raiser saw members of the local Garage Gym participate in tests of strength and endurance.  For every pound raised and meter rowed, local businesses donated a dollar toward the installation of a lift in the Whites’ home.  The lift will allow Lawson, who is paralyzed, to travel up and down the stairs without the need to be carried.

Among Friday’s attendants was Windsor’s Kelly Branton, an internationally-renowned power lifter, the first Canadian to squat 900 pounds and the first Canadian to bench 600 pounds.  Branton spotted competitors during their workouts and “helped get the most out of them,” according to Garage Gym co-owner Tony Smith.

Tony Smith performs a deadlift at G. L. Heritage Brewing Company in Amherstburg on Friday, April 6, 2018. For every pound lifted, local businesses donated a dollar to the White family in support of their son, Lawson.

Another attendant of note was Marisa Willms, who currently holds seven world records on the SkiErg, an indoor machine which simulates Nordic skiing.  Friday, she tried to reclaim her world record for the 2,000m, which was snatched away by Australian skier Kate Hilliard.  Willm’s target was seven minutes and 11 seconds.  She came in four seconds short, but did reach a new personal record.

In fact, all the competitors reached personal records, according the Garage Gym.  They include Corey Vultaggio and Tony Smith, who competed in a deadlift competition, and Jeremy D’Alimonte and Winston Woolcock, who competed in a three-minute rowing competition.

Tony Smith said he is proud his gym was able to help out its members and that, really, it feels like more of a family.