No Publicists, No Cameras, No Reporters
Thursday, July 24, 2003
The Tennessean. Brad About You
Earlier this month, a California-based Make-A-Wish volunteer was working with a sweet cancer patient, Renee Lee, 18, a community activist/volunteer in Santa Rosa, Calif., whose only dying wish was to meet Garth Brooks.
Volunteer Wendy Quinn went through traditional avenues, but ''official'' word from the Garth camp was that he couldn't immediately meet Renee. Wendy, who grew to love Renee, simply couldn't call and tell her that news.
So, thinking Garth might still live here, Wendy e-mailed every Nashville news anchor whose e-mail address she could find, asking them: Do you know Garth or can you get me in touch with him?
One of those e-mails got to NewsChannel 5 personality Harry Chapman, who passed it on to Garth's old Nashville publicist, Karen Byrd, who passed it on to Garth's peeps.
ONE DAY LATER, Garth sent his personal jet to pick up Renee and her family to take them to a Garth dinner-show in Las Vegas, a fund-raiser for a children's charity.
Garth and his lady, Trisha Yearwood, spent lots of time with Renee during the day and gave her great seats for the nighttime show.
''It made the end of her life so much happier,'' Wendy told me.
About a week later, Renee died. Her funeral was Wednesday, and there were flowers from Garth and Trisha.
Harry Chapman played a small but important part in the process, and he was moved when he got an e-mail saying Renee had passed away.
''I cried,'' he said. ''I cried to know that little girl got her wish before she died.''
For the record, neither Garth nor his reps, nor Harry, ever sought any kind of publicity for the kindness. We found out about this one on our own.
For more on Renee, there is a remarkable story on her illness, her sister's dedication, and her weekend with Garth in the ContraCosta Times.