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A nursery full of tails

a tale of everyday heroes
Riley Uthe, 9, gets up close and personal with a baby goat at Forever Green Nursery and Garden Center’s annual Open House in April. The event is held each April to welcome spring and the center’s growing season, but this year had special meaning as it was also a fundraiser for a Forever Green employee who was diagnosed with leukemia. (photo by Jen Moore)

CORALVILLE– Each spring as the weather warms, calves, goats, and other furry farm animals take up residence among the flowers and trees at Forever Green garden center, delighting children for one weekend.
But this year, the nursery’s annual open house became more than just a way to celebrate the end of winter.
Last year, a Forever Green employee, Colin Waddick, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer that affects white blood cells inside the bone marrow.
Because of his aggressive treatment, Waddick, a landscape designer, was unable to work putting a financial strain on the father of two.
Lucy Hershberger, owner of Forever Green, decided to combine her spring open house with a fundraiser to benefit Waddick and his family.
Local businesses donated gift certificates and packages for a silent auction and raffle while Forever Green employees brought in treats for a bake sale. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to Waddick.
In addition to his job as a landscape designer, Waddick is also a hockey referee for high schools, colleges and other organizations. To pay tribute, his family also sold orange bracelets that looked like miniature hockey referee armbands, since orange is the color of leukemia awareness.
Waddick’s brother, Austin Waddick, took photos of kids with some of the animals in exchange for donations.
“People have just been amazing,” Hershberger said. “Just about the time you start to get discouraged about how people act or how things happen, you do something like this and it surprises you.”
Waddick’s friends and family also joined to help the nursery by contacting businesses for donations or simply lending a hand during the open house and benefit.
Over $6,500 was raised over the course of the weekend, according to Hershberger.
At the time of his diagnosis, the 30-year-old was given an estimate of six months to a year to live. According to Waddick’s father, doctors are now giving him a much more positive outlook.
“Now they’re talking about the possibility of a cure,” Mike Waddick said. “He’s kicking it right now. The doctor’s can’t believe it.”
Located at 125 Forevergreen Road in Coralville, this is the fifth year of Forever Green’s open house, and Hershberger said it just keeps getting bigger.
This year in addition to the petting zoo and fundraiser, Forever Green offered a bounce house donated by Colony Campgrounds, crafts with employees from the Iowa Children’s Museum, and flowers children could take home and plant.
“Is this not the craziest thing you’ve ever seen?” Hershberger joked. “Last year we had about 1,000 people total and we’ve already had more than that this [Saturday] morning.”