Martins Mission 2009

Posted on Mon 09/07/2009 by

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Most people have never heard of Freeland, PA. With a population of just over 3,000, it’s a small town that sits atop a mountain, about 8 miles from Hazleton. Freeland is the highest inhabited borough in the commonwealth of PA.

When Freeland Mayor Tim Martin announced to the world just two months ago that was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, the entire community rallied with him in his fight for survival, evidenced by a great showing at Freeland Community Park this past Saturday (September 5).

Esophageal cancer is one of the most difficult to cure. Mayor Martin has endured 6 weeks of chemotherapy treatment and is slated to go to Philadelphia for surgery in two weeks. Tammy, Mayor Tim’s wife of three years, has been his Godsend during this time if trial, as well as heartfelt letters of support from town residents.

The fundraiser began on Tuesday, when students were asked to bring in poster boards to make encouraging signs for the mayor. On Wednesday, when Mayor Tim joined Principal Joseph Barletta and Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta at the Freeland Elementary Middle School, students were gathered into the gymnasium to hear Mayor Tim speak about his chemo and told them that this fight is not about who’s a Republican and who’s a Democrat (Tim Martin is a Democrat, while Lou Barletta is a Republican).

On Thursday, students were allowed to “dress down” for a $1.00 donation. Children showed up to school in jeans and T-shirts, some giving more than their $1 for the cause.

The community diverged on the park on Saturday, some arriving as early as 9am. A carnival-type aura was prepared in the park, with the requisite funnel cakes, potato pancakes, apple dumplings, rides, games, tricky trays (Chinese auction) and entertainment. Bands played in the pavilion all day long, including Badd Monkeys, who joked around with Tux, the mascot from the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, and There and Back Again, a loved local band whose lead singer is also a cancer survivor.

Several young ladies from Freeland Elementary presented the mayor with the school’s donation, a whopping $1100 they raised during the dress-down day. The group then sang a Miley Cyrus song “The Climb” together. Tim explained that he sang this song every day during his chemo treatment and it was an inspiration.

In the early evening, Tim shared an anecdotal story about his wife accidentally baking watermelon instead of meatloaf during his first week of treatment. Shouts of “We love you, Tim” could be heard from the crowd. He responded that he loved them as well.

With festivities continuing until 10:30pm, it was hoped that $5,000 would have been raised throughout the day. A grand total was not yet available, as checks were being handed over all day long, but the quick estimate was over $14,000. The proceeds will be given to the American Cancer Society.

It was wonderful to see so many people turn out to an event in these tough economic times to support their mayor. It would have been fantastic just to see the $5,000 goal met, but to see it almost tripled was an amazing testament of the type of people who live in and around Freeland, PA. It may be a small town and even a little backwards sometimes, but the love and concern for each other was blatantly apparent this weekend.

Mayor Tim promised to be there for the Second Annual Martins Mission 2010 next year.

God bless Mayor Tim Martin, his wife Tammy, his family, and the town of Freeland.