Local grandmother is once again turning something bad into an opportunity for good

Marlys Barker - Contributing Writer
Grandma Lynn Marr-Moore with her granddaughter, Charlie, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

A Kelley grandma has never been one to let bad news keep her from taking positive action.

Lynn Marr-Moore, who lives in the rural Kelley area, just south of Ames, recalls getting the news roughly seven years ago that the child her son and his wife were expecting had Cystic Fibrosis (CF).

“I cried a whole bunch for a couple of weeks and then decided that I needed to do something to help,” Marr-Moore said.

What she did to help was significant. She became a CF activist and created a CF support group, Charlie’s Angels, just a few months after the birth of her granddaughter, Charlotte “Charlie Hugunin, who turned 6 on Labor Day 2019.

“We have angels all over the United States as well as in England,” Marr-Moore said. “According to the official Charlie’s Angels Facebook page, we are 500 strong in members, and there are many more behind-the-scenes members who help us each and every time I ask for help.”

Most people have heard of Charlie’s Angels and some of the big events that are held by the group each year. Marr-Moore is active in getting the word out through newspapers and social media. One of the most significant events for the group is “Breathing Life into the Future,” usually an April event held at the Hotel Pattee in Perry.

“Owner Tom Maxwell and his team put this event on for us each year,” Marr-Moore said. That team includes chef Katie Martinez, owner of Harvey’s at the Hotel, and Hawn Wong, the go-to guy for every other item at the event. With the pandemic, this year’s event is on a “month-to-month hold,” and Marr-Moore said, “we are looking forward to a big party when we get the go-ahead.”

Another big event is Lunch with Coach Campbell each summer. The event is planned for July 28 this year. “Coach Campbell is in his fifth year with our annual luncheon, and this year we have Cy attending as well,” she said. The Hy-Vee Lincoln Center is a big supporter of the event.

Charlie’s Angels also hopes for another July event this year. “Birdies for a Cure” is a golf event planned for July 10 in Des Moines. “This will be a first-year event, so we are super excited to get this on our annual status,” she said. Another annual event is Pushing our Pedals for Charlie, a bike ride event set for Aug. 8 this year on the Great Western Trail near Cumming.

As we said earlier, bad news, which the present pandemic across the country undoubtedly can be classified as, sent Marr-Moore into action once again.

“I have a friend who has a son that is a surgeon in a hospital in Detroit, Mich. My friend asked me if I would make face masks out of IOWA fabric. I told her, ‘Of course,’” Marr-Moore said. “Then my cousin’s husband works at the University of Iowa ICU Coronary, and she asked me if I would make one for Joe, also in IOWA fabric.”

As everyone who knows Marr-Moore is aware, she’s a super Iowa State fan, but, she proceeded helping those Iowa City folks who were in need. And she got more requests. She saw it as a possible fundraising opportunity for Charlie’s Angels and CF.

“I could not charge for these masks, but I would accept donations to CF Foundation for research,” she decided, and with that, the orders started coming in for both Iowa and Iowa State masks, and the donations keep coming in as well.

A friend jumps in

Marr-Moore’s lower level studio has become overwhelmed with fabric, antibacterial lining, elastic, strings and scraps all over the place. And now, a nearby friend, Amber Shill, also of rural Kelley has signed up to help.

“She is such a sweet person and very creative. She, too, was making masks for family and then decided to make some to sell (for donations to Charlie’s Angels). I didn’t ask her to do this; she did it on her own.”

Amber said she’s using a pattern she found online, and her most significant need, she said, is elastic. “I went to Dollar Tree and bought all of the elastic headbands that I could find, and right now, I’m cutting those up and using them for earloops,” she said.

Shill has completed 30 masks so far, all double-layer that have a piece of wire in the nose bridge. “They take me a while,” she said. “The first one took me three hours. Now, I can generally complete a mask in an hour to hour-and-a-half. I’ve never really sewn with a pattern, so this is more complicated than the curtains and pillowcases I’ve made in the past.”

But she’s happy to help. “Since the date of Breathing the Life Into the Future gala is unknown for this year, I wanted to do something to help raise funds for Charlie’s Angels,” Shill said.

Marr-Moore has a habit of finding friends to join her CF cause.

Trisha Dunkelberger is one such friend. She came across a post from Marr-Moore on the can collecting that she does to raise funds for CF — yes, collecting cans is yet another fundraising activity that Marr-Moore and her husband, Reed, do. “For some reason, her post really affected me that day, so I responded … we had bags of cans waiting for her,” Dunkelberger said. That was the start of a great friendship between the families.

“God wanted this woman in my life,” Dunkelberger said, “and that’s why we were brought together. We also share a crush on Coach Campbell, and Lynn made me her right-hand person for the annual lunch we do with Coach.”

Lynn’s brother, Michael Marr of Arizona, is never surprised by how his sister turns every bad situation into good or about how much she’s raised for CF. “Lynn is a tireless, devoted, dedicated fundraising dynamo. She enlisted the Iowa State Alumni of Phoenix, of which I am a member, to aid in (Charlie’s Angels)… To date, I think our Phoenix ISU Alumni have raised almost $7,000 in the last two years.”

Marr-Moore said that looking for ongoing opportunities to raise funds for CF is a must-stay-focused-on mission. “Cystic Fibrosis does not take time off. It is something that Charlie and the other 30,000 people worldwide live with every single day. Thus, fundraising needs to take place, too… The government doesn’t fund CF research, so it is left up to the CF Foundation and families and, in our case, a whole lot of angels.”

Marr-Moore is very proud of the over $138,300 that Charlie’s Angels has raised over the past six years. “A good year for us (this year) would be raising over $30,000. We are not sure what will happen this year with the COVID-19 turning everyone’s lives upside down… But we will keep working on our goal.”

As for how COVID-19 is affecting Charlie, Her dad, Tim Hugunin (Marr-Moore’s son) said Charlie is doing well. “We are not doing a whole lot of different things than we normally do. We are practicing social distancing and staying at home as much as possible. We do try to get outside for exterior bike riding or walking on trails. Charlie does a lot of facetime with some of her friends, as we are not doing playdates.”

Marr-Moore said she and Shill don’t need any help making masks, but they are looking for people who would like to order more masks in trade out for a donation. People can contact her, or Shill at their Facebook pages: Lynn Marr Moore and Amber Burkhart Shill.

General donations are also always accepted by Charlie’s Angels. Just mail a check made out to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - Iowa Chapter and send it to Charlie’s Angels, 54258 276th St., Kelley, Iowa 50134. “I will process it on to the Foundation, where they will send an official receipt,” Marr-Moore said.

Last, of all, Marr-Moore wants to add this: “I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for their support, attending events, supplying items we need, and praying for Charlie and her family… It takes a village, and my village is full of love and great people.”