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By SHAINA STOCKTON, Staff
Charity Shupe of Woodlawn is checking her mailbox every day for letters and Christmas cards from the community, following a recent request that she posted online on behalf of her father, Charlie Alderman.
“Please read this... A lot of my [Facebook] friends are aware of my father’s situation... I am not asking for money or handouts, however I would love nothing more than to make this Christmas special [for him],” Charity posted on a public Facebook page earlier this month.
Charlie, who has worked for Vaughn-Guynn Funeral Home for as long as Charity and her sister Nicole Alderman can remember, has recently been dealing with a number of health problems. His most recent obstacle is a diagnosis of colon cancer, which doctors will perform surgery in an attempt to remove on Dec. 17.
In addition to their concerns about the surgery, Charlie and his family are also crushed with the possibility that he might not be home in time for Christmas — his favorite holiday.
So, in an attempt to bring Christmas to her father, Charity has put out a request for the community: a project called A Million Wishes for Charlie. “I am asking all of my friends and family, and all of your friends and family and churches and everyone to please send a Christmas card [for my father],” she wrote.
Charlie’s health problems began last December, when he slipped on some ice and suffered a spinal cord injury.
Charity and Nicole explained the series of events in an interview with The Gazette on Nov. 21. “He was unconscious, so we called 911 and took him to the emergency room. They had to do a video conference, and then they sent him to [Winston-Salem, N.C.] for surgery... they put a rod and screws in the upper part of his back,” said Charity.
Charlie had previously been diagnosed with Stage 4 COPD, which complicated the surgery further. “After surgery, they took him off the ventilator... he coded twice, but they brought him back,” said Charity.
Charity and Nicole recalled their father’s state of mind following the surgery. “He didn’t know anybody was there, or where he was,” Charity said. “The doctors didn’t expect him to live when he was there, but he fought through it. He was there for around three months.”
Charlie remained surrounded by his family, who visited regularly while he was in the hospital. “My stepmom [Sandy Alderman] never left his side,” Charity added.
After he came home, Charlie slowly regained the use of his limbs. “He was classified as a quadriplegic, because he had problems with all of his limbs,” Charity said.
The recovery period was a difficult challenge for Charlie. “He never missed a day of work in his life, and he’s good at his job... one of the best funeral directors around here,” said Nicole.
After he received a diagnosis of colon cancer, doctors recommended surgery as treatment. “With his Stage 4 COPD causing complications, his surgery has been put off three times now... he’s scheduled on Dec. 17 now,” said Charity.
This surgery will be especially difficult for Alderman and his family, because of his love of Christmas.
Charity cried as she spoke of her father’s love for the holiday. “On Oct. 1 every year, he starts listening to Christmas music, starts watching the movies... it’s his favorite time of year,” she said.
Nicole squeezed her sister’s hand. “Everybody knows him, or at least most people in the community... they know he’s a good person,” she told The Gazette.
Proof of this was apparent soon after the post was made public on Facebook.
In just a few days, the post had been shared over 700 times. “Someone contacted me through messaging. They said that I didn’t know them, but they had a set of twins that were born and passed away seven years ago, and if it wasn’t for my dad, they didn’t know if they would have made it through,” said Charity.
By Dec. 15, Charity and Nicole along with their other siblings Danny Alderman and Amy Lundy, plan to gather all of the cards that are sent and deliver them to Charlie at the hospital before his surgery. “I have this image in my head of the court scene in Miracle on 34th Street, where they come in and dump all of the letters to Santa in front of the judge,” said Nicole. “I’d love for us to get enough cards to do that... it’s his favorite movie.”
Regardless of the number, the sisters hope that the surprise will succeed in bringing their father the merry Christmas he deserves. “I just can’t wait to see the smile on his face. It would mean so much to him,” Charity said.
• Christmas cards can be sent to Charlie and Sandy Alderman c/o Charity Shupe, 332 Pot Rock Road, Woodlawn, VA 24381. All cards need to be received by Dec. 15.