Islanders swim, walk and run for others

Christopher Simpson at MI Country Club sees hundreds of Island dads in action. As a father of four who teaches Island kids to swim, Chris knows how to spot the superlative. He nominates David Kelly-Hedrick for his and his wife Heather’s modern way of shared parenting and exposing their children, ages 12, 10 and 7, to life’s adventures.

They camp, explore the wilderness, take up musical instruments, read for fun (very little TV in their home), pick raspberries, swim, day hike in the mountains, roam tide pools, visit parks and museums, and “just see what the day offers,” says David. This summer brings a once-in-a-decade visit to Spain to discover another culture.

“We try to provide a balance between consistency and flexibility,” says the dad who takes eight weeks off in the summer from his job as program director of the YMCA to play Mr. Mom. “While we provide the bedrock bottom line for the kids, we also expose them to variety, trying out new things. When they were younger, we would camp in a limited area on the coast. Now the kids help us plan deeper trail excursions or loop hikes. We get by with little and make fun with driftwood, rocks and sand.”

Fatherhood is rich, he adds. “Margot, Ian and Sophie are resourceful and valuable to us today — not just when they grow up. They’re little Buddhas to us.”

Roger Johnson is a 52-year-old entrepreneur on the Island who invents products based on what he observes in nature. For example, one of his patents is a cost-saving infrared heater with a compound reflective lens that mimics a lobster’s eye and focuses with reflectors. He has passed this amazing view of the world on to his kids and encourages them to ask questions. “Life is an invitation rather than an obligation,” says Roger, who emphasizes that choices and invitations toward others are the most powerful. “I’m so inspired by the natural systems all around us that I urge my two nearly grown kids to tune into this ‘bio-mimicry’ of all kinds.”

It was just two months ago when Randy Peterson was diagnosed with brain cancer, and now he’s in a coma struggling for life. At age 63, he and his wife Carla, and son, Geoff, are long-time Islanders — salt-of-the-earth types. Since 1981, Randy has sold commercial real estate with Westlake Associates. He became a partner in 1988. All who have been touched by the Petersons are invited to join “Team Randy” in the Brain Cancer Walk at Mercer Island High School on Saturday, June 28.?

The idea is to walk around the high school track from 9 a.m. to noon, cheer others on, get involved in the silent auction and/or donate to brain cancer research. The $25 registration includes a T-shirt. Swedish Hospital is organizing the event, and proceeds will go toward a multi-disciplinary brain tumor treatment center. More than 500 are expected to attend.

Another cancer survivor who could use moral support as you see her biking, jogging or swimming around MI is Chickie Buckner, doing her utmost to train for the Aug. 17 Danskin Triathlon. But, oh my. This being the coldest summer of the year so far, the frigid lakes are not welcoming, even in a wet suit. While she’s a strong bicycler, taking on Gallagher Hill and ’round-Island jaunts, the farthest she has ever walked is once around the Island with peripatetic David Wolters. He suggested that next time, she pick it up a little! Let’s hear it for the 76-year-old cancer survivor and her quest for the half-mile of swimming at Stan Sayers Pit, 12 biking miles on the closed I-90 express lane, and a six-mile jog back to Seward Park. No promises, she says. But, it’s too soon to give up on it.

More deer sightings: About 9 a.m. on Friday, Bruce Gallagher and his wife, Mary Lou, had just fed grandson, Jackson, and?put on a “Bambi” video for his pleasure. Mary Lou shouted from the kitchen that there was a deer in the back yard. Bruce thought, “no way, on Mercer Island.” Then she called out again, “There are two deer.” As it turned out, there were three, all does. “I held my grandson up to show him a real ‘Bambi,’” said Bruce. “They nibbled my roses, preened themselves for about 15 minutes and drifted off. It was quite a sight — my first in the 30 years I’ve lived on the Island.”

Marilyn Blue confirms that she has seen this trio several times in her Pioneer Park backyard, eating her holly. But she thinks there’s one doe and two fawns who have lost their spots. They appear to have no fear of humans. Also, the Blues’ retinue of 12 raccoons are beginning to bring their kits for showtime. “They’re balls of fluff,” says Marilyn.

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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