January 15, 1987 - August 16, 2017
Written by Melissa Brunner, August 17, 2017...
My heart breaks along with the community of Burlington today as we learn of the passing of Loran Martin.
I met Loran through the Muscular Dystrophy Association and was immediately inspired by her desire to live and give. Honor her memory by being kind to those around you and finding joy in all you do.
Where to begin.
Many years ago, this breath of fresh air breezed into our MDA Telethon broadcast location. She might have been delivering a donation. I don't recall exactly. What I do remember is the bright smile, easy hug and infectious laugh.
As we spoke, she also admitted to a bit of anxiety and fear. Loran Martin had been diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia, and no one could exactly say what that would mean for her future. I'm sure Loran was upset with herself for letting a few tears slip out. She'd quickly brush them aside, the smile would return, and you could see the determination - the determination to live.
Friedreich's is a rare disease that attacks the muscular and nervous system causing problems that worsen over time. There is no cure.
But, it had never met Loran. We'd catch up each year at the telethon as Loran brought in her donations from her MDA golf tournament and the Coffey County Fill the Boot campaign (thousands and thousands of dollars over the years). She was so proud when she told me about the job she loved at the Burlington Recreation Center. In 2012 she invited WIBW to watch as community members came together to give her what any independent young woman would want - a home of her own! They built it just for her to accommodate her movement needs and the wheelchair she was using more frequently. Facebook has been a wonderful way to touch base and follow her smile as she lit up the world.
Today, that world is a bit dimmer. Loran passed away unexpectedly. Within hours her Facebook wall was flooded with messages from so many people who knew and loved her. They also raised a special flag outside the Burlington Recreation Center today. It features her beloved Kansas Jayhawks and the words, "Forever Loran".
Loran was an inspiration to all who knew her and she touched more lives than she will ever know. The impact of her three decades on earth is immeasurable.
People like Loran are why we fight. For 17 years I spent my Labor Days alongside Ralph Hipp raising awareness of Friedreich's Ataxia and other neuromuscular diseases. The telethon may have ended, but the work of MDA does not. So many exciting things continue to happen because people like Loran are willing to live and fight and give every day.
Rest easy, my friend. Your work here lives on.