“WANDER-thon” at the Christopher Farm & Gardens (Part 3 of 3)

“WANDER-thon” at the Christopher Farm & Gardens (Part 3 of 3)

NOTE: To see photos related to this article, click on the PDF below.

The First Annual WANDER-thon held on August 19th and 20th at the Christopher Farm & Gardens benefiting SCCCF was a WANDER-ful success!

Two issues back I shared some stories related to WANDER-thon Flame, which burned for 24-hours straight as well as stories related to the Schell House Firepit, which was a perfect gathering spot for many of the event activities and in the last issue I shared some stories about some of the many planned activities! But as is often the case in life, some of the best experiences and memories are the unplanned surprises that just happen! Here are a few of those stories along with some final remarks.

Impromptu Nature Center Visit!

The Christopher Farm & Gardens is such a unique place in so many ways, including its vast array of opportunities. We were extremely fortunate to have Erika Lusthoff from CF&G join us as both a WANDER-thon committee member and a participant. I happened to catch up to a group of “WANDER-ers” on Friday that were being led by Erika on Friday night when they arrived at the CF&G Nature Center. Erika graciously opened the doors and let us in, spurring the curiosity of this group of kids, young and old.

Impromptu Nature Center Visit!

Erika is known for sharing her knowledge, wisdom, and enthusiasm about the Gardens and all its natural beauty. I learned from some of the youthful WANDER-ers that, on the spur of the moment, she helped them dig up some worms, gather some fishing gear, and headed to one of the ponds for some fishing!

See attached PDF for photo: Emma shows off her catch!

The Children’s Barn!

Another popular spot for many of our youthful WANDER-ers was the Children’s Barn where Erika opened some of the gates to interact more closely with the animals!

See attached PDF for photo: Brenna and Emma and some young lop eared bunnies!

CF&G Brings Out the Kid in All of Us!

Anyone who has visited the CF&G for an afternoon (much less, spent twenty-four continuous hours there) has probably felt the invitation to be a kid again! Features like the Dairyland Express amusement train, JAY-rassic Park, and all the fun lawn decorations just seems to bring out the kid in all of us!

WANDER-er Jenny John Baptiste (center) has some fun with friend Kate Miller (right) and her daughter Hannah (left) who delivered lunch donated by Town & Country on Saturday, then stuck around to have some fun!

The photo below (see attached PDF for photo) of Hannah and Jenny is one of my favorite photos from the weekend... because it represents simple, silly, outdoor FUN!

And here is some intergenerational fun (see attached PDF for photo) as WANDER-ers Mike Ansay and Zander Gumtow enjoy a unique opportunity on the handcart located in the Railyard Gardens! Zander is wearing the duck hat he won in the “Rubber Ducky Scavenger Hunt”!

I have enjoyed sharing photos and stories of the WANDER-thon with you over these past three issues and I invite you to view more photos on our website:


I will close with a few more photos and remarks.


Special thanks to Barb & Lenny Bogenschutz who assembled these Luminarias dedicated “In Honor of...” or “In Memory of...” area cancer patients and survivors! Although they were originally planned to be placed throughout the gardens, they were moved to this protected space when it began to rain. Although it was not as originally planned, having all of these luminaries light up this peaceful spot was a wonderful reminder of what this event was all about! It was a chance to honor all those survivors in our community who have experienced the challenges of a cancer diagnosis and remember those who have lost their lives to this disease while raising some funds to help those

The Beauty that Comes from Community and Togetherness!

Although I have shared many photos and stories over these past three issues, it is only a small sampling of all that took place at this first annual WANDER-thon! But I would like to end with what is probably my favorite story.

Let me start from the beginning.

Several years ago, a Lily Oncology pharmaceutical representative supplied us with a “Lily Oncology on Canvas” group (paint-by-number) art kit. I put it in the closet, waiting for the right opportunity to use it. Well... many years went by... but it remained in the closet.

As we were preparing for the WANDER-thon, I came across the art kit and figured, “What the heck! We have 24-hours to fill... this might be something that a few folks might enjoy!” So, it became one of the many “WANDER-thon Passport” activities!

A table and a few chairs were set up in the Landscape Barn the day of the event.

Each time I walked by the Landscape barn I would see a few folks working on the painting.

As the painting was getting closer to completion, a crowd began to gather!

But I had to leave before the painting was completed.

Later that night (while most others were sleeping) I went for a walk by myself. As I neared the landscape barn, I thought I would peek in on the project, not even sure if it had been completed. I turned on a light and light and, from a distance, noticed all of the supplies had been cleaned up and neatly set aside, signaling it had been completed. As I neared the table... the finished piece came into view.

See attached PDF for photo: Special thanks to The Sign Shop of Sheboygan (https://getsigns.biz/) for this high-resolution image! I invite you to stop by my office to view the original!

Participating Artists Include: Linda Ansay, Mike Ansay, Kathy Burch, Emma Gumtow, Zander Gumtow, Leah Heusterberg, Jenny John Baptiste, Maryellen Kloiber, Beverly Leonhard, Erika Lusthoff, Tim Renzelmann, Adam Schlies, Isabella Schmitz, John Zalewski, Sue Zalewski.

I was simply mesmerized by what I was looking at! A few hours earlier I had simply set out a blank canvas along with a few supplies, and invited area cancer patients/survivors and co-survivors to gather together to see what they could create! One-by-one; individually, and in groups; they gathered and added their unique brush strokes to create this beautiful and exquisite work of art! I was humbled by what this amazing group of people had created... and proud to have been a small part of it!

It was more than 22-years ago that Dr. Matthews invited me to join the staff. Similarly, Dr. Matthews and Dr. Bettag have given us a blank canvas to work with over the years. So many cancer patients/survivors, co-survivors, community members and organizations have come together to add their own brush strokes to create another work of art, a masterpiece even, that I often and affectionately refer to as our Local Cancer Community! And I am humbled by what we created and proud to be a small part of it!

More About This Art Project:

This 24x36 paint-by-number project was a reproduction of a Lily Oncology on Canvas original piece of art titled “FREED”, a pastel by a Family Member, Friend, or Caregiver from Virginia (2012).

The original (unnamed) artist explained,

“When a picture of a butterfly appeared on my mom’s hospital room door, I knew. The next day, my mom, a never-smoker, passed away from lung cancer.

Months later, I became a runner. I ran away from the grief. One day, I ran through a path that released butterflies. From that moment, I started running through the grief, sometimes melting into tears.

Now I run so I can feel my mom around me, in every mile, in every step, with every breath. I draw strength from her to keep going.

The pastel drawing reflects how running transformed me, freed me from the grief. I like to think that the butterflies crossing my path are my mom, wo is especially with me – especially when I run.”

For more about Lily Oncology on Canvas:


Donations to be Doubled!

The event raised almost $9,000 and, thanks to the dollar-for-dollar match by Jay Christopher of the Christopher Farm & Gardens, that total will be doubled!

Giving Thanks Where Thanks Is Due!

As amazing as this event and experience was... it would not have been possible or as successful without the generous support of so many!


Jay Christopher

Christopher Farm & Gardens


Salon 511

TR Services

Matthews Oncology Associates

Sheboygan Cancer & Blood Specialists

Physicians Health Network


Town & Country Corporation

Sargento Cheese

Old Wisconsin Sausage

Great Lakes Cheese


Big Apple Bagels


Anonymous Donors


Lenny & Barb Bogenschutz

Leah Heusterberg

Maryellen Kloiber

Erika Lusthoff

Mary Schueller

We hope you will join us for next year’s “WANDER-thon at the Christopher Farm & Gardens” and, in the meantime, invite you to attend any of the many upcoming “Survive, Thrive & Be Fit at the Christopher Farm & Gardens” outings (see next article)!

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