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Tour de Park honors Hendershot's memory and mission

September 20, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN -- You might not have noticed the curb cuts on Hagerstown street corners allowing people who use wheelchairs to get around.

But perhaps you have gone Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park and noticed children with and without disabilities playing together at the accessible Boundless Playground.

Each of these boons to the Hagerstown community, and many more, are due in part to the efforts of community activist and former Hagerstown City Councilman N. Linn Hendershot, who passed away in May.

Community members and representatives from city and county agencies celebrated Hendershot's passion and accomplishments Saturday morning at the N. Linn Hendershot Tour de Park memorial bicycle ride.

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Even during his final days, Hendershot was conferring with community agencies to help bring a program called Project Lifesaver to Washington County. The program is designed to assist people who tend to wander - such as individuals with Alzheimer's, autism or Down syndrome - by proactively identifying them, then by finding them and helping them return home if they get lost.

"It was truly (Hendershot's) dedication, vision and mission to get Project Lifesaver off the ground," said Kevin Lewis, director of the division of Fire and Emergency Services for Washington County.

The Tour de Park served not only as a tribute to Hendershot, but also as a fundraiser for his last community initiative. Children were invited to ride bicycles, tricycles, wheelchairs or even walk the paved path at Fairgrounds Park. Between money raised by each of the events 10 participants, raffles and sponsorships, the Tour de Park raised more than $3,000.

Robin Deibert, a volunteer with MIHI (Many Individuals Helping Individuals), was assistant coordinator of the event. She said Hendershot always was "thinking outside of the box."

"In the two years that I got to know him, the first thing he would say when he saw me was, 'We could do this for the community.' The last thing he would say is, 'Who can you get to help?'" Deibert said. "This was the last major project he got started before he passed away and obviously, it's important. I think we need to continue it."

Lisa Faulkner of Boonsboro took her children, Alexandra, 12, and Garrett, 9, to the event. Garrett has autism and is a participant in Project Lifesaver. He wears a small electronic bracelet with a VHF transmitter around his ankle. The transmitters are tracked using a receiver operated by trained Project Lifesaver specialists.

"Project Lifesaver gives me peace of mind in case (Garrett) would wander and get lost. I can't keep an eye on him 24 hours a day. I wish I could, but he goes to school and activities," Lisa Faulkner said. "This makes me feel a little more comfortable."

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