Giant sympathy card to make rounds for Newtown residents
HAMPTON - Jim Conant likes to do things big.
For the Victoria Arlen parade in Exeter, he had a giant banner made that reads, "Rock Your Disability."
Conant has spent years giving back to the community because he knows what it means to be on the receiving end of boundless community support.
So, as the devastating loss facing Newtown, Conn. settled in, Conant wanted to do something big to show the people of Newtown that New Hampshire cares about them and what they are going through.
Working with Wendee Robinson at Signs of the Times in Exeter, Conant helped design a hinged greeting card 4-feet wide by 8-feet tall for the people of New Hampshire to sign.
SpeedPro in Portsmouth helped create the giant card with a simple message on the front: "You Will Never Walk Alone."
In 2005, Conant's wife, Anita, postmaster in the small town of New Castle, was rear-ended by a large paving truck and was paralyzed from the neck down.
Over the next three months, Jim Conant traveled from hospital to hospital with his wife as she received treatment. During that time, the bills were paid by others, the Conants' home was adapted to help meet Anita Conant's new needs and outpourings of support helped keep the Conants' spirits up.
When their life settled down into new routines, the couple began paying forward the support that was shown to them, whether helping another person suddenly disabled pay for adaptations to their home, or creating a giant greeting card to show a community they are not alone in their grief.
"I am trying to call it a card of support, because at this point, given what I've been through, I know what is like to have support and give support," Conant said.
Governor John Lynch will be the first person to sign the card at the New Hampshire State House this morning.
On Thursday, the enormous card will visit the Fox Run Mall in Newington from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for residents to sign.
On Friday, it will make a final stop in Keene at the Parks and Recreation Center on Washington Street from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
It will be delivered to the residents of Newtown on Saturday, Conant said. The details of the presentation of the card are still being arranged.
"It's been received with a lot of good feedback, so I think it is going to be a good opportunity for the people of New Hampshire to do something," Conant said.
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Gretyl Macalaster may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.