The Wiltberger, Ullum, Drake, Callihan and Schuman families have been lifelong members of the Upper Arlington community.
To the editor:
The Wiltberger, Ullum, Drake, Callihan and Schuman families have been lifelong members of the Upper Arlington community. Over the years, we always appreciated all of the typical things that make Upper Arlington a great community: schools, library, property values, community programs and events. However, following our tragic loss of one of our family members, Andy Wiltberger, we've discovered Upper Arlington's greatest assets: its people.
We lost Andy on Oct. 17 without any warning as a result of a massive heart attack. The UA communication web was instrumental in getting the word out. Even those living out of state were included in the communication chain (as once a part of UA, you're always a part of UA). Immediately, the community responded to our families with love, support and help. Friends, neighbors, co-workers and even acquaintances gave food, took care of homes, picked up our commitments, covered our responsibilities and most importantly expressed their love and support.
The people of the community came by the hundreds to Andy's funeral and his "celebration of life" service in support of our families. It's typical for people to return to their normal lives following such services, but not the people of UA. Andy's wife, Julie, and their sons, Jason and Ben, continue to receive care and support. The UA community responded with more than 140 people making contributions to an education account for Jason and Ben.
The UA Youth Football League (where Andy was coaching his son, Ben, and had coached for more than 10 years) honored Andy with helmet stickers to be worn by everyone in the league. The league also raised funds from the community to honor Andy with a memorial bench and tree at Northam Park. Julie received anonymous gifts of support from people who simply want to reach out to her without any recognition.
It's difficult to recount all of the acts of kindness they've received, but here are some additional examples: countless meals, a painted bedroom, mowed and raked lawn, Ohio State basketball tickets, Blue Jackets tickets, carpooling, house-sitting, red memorial ribbons on trees, groceries, house cleaning, surprise Christmas gifts, fundraisers, numerous requests to assist with anything as well as plenty of prayers. After observing this outpouring from the community, our extended family from California commented that you wouldn't see communities react in such manner in California. So, we don't and neither should anyone else take for granted the special people that live here in UA.
Part of our fear is not that we'll forget the loss of Andy, but that others will. Needless to say, with the tremendous outpouring of support from the people of UA our fear has been alleviated. For all these reasons, it's with humble hearts that the Wiltberger, Ullum, Drake, Callihan and Schuman families wish to express a most sincere "thank you" to the people of Upper Arlington. We don't have enough thank-you cards to send to everyone, and we also don't know who all to thank.
So, we thought this letter would be most appropriate. More importantly, we want everyone to know what a special community we have. We all know of the tangible things that make a great community. However, it took our family tragedy to really see that what truly makes Upper Arlington a great community is its people.
On behalf of the Wiltberger, Ullum, Drake, Callihan and Schuman families