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Wellness center plans Bunny Hop in Darlington for April 19
bunny hop
Money raised from this years Bunny Hop will go to the Willie Golackson (L) family and to the Histiocytosis Association of America in the name of Joseph Thuli (R). -Photo by Tallitha Reese

The second Bunny Hop Run/Walk will be held in Darlington on Saturday, April 19 this year. The Bunny Hop is being put on by the Dora Ritter Wellness Center and this year the money raised will go to the Willie Golackson family and to the Histiocytosis Association of America in Joseph Thuli’s name.
    Joseph Thuli, 15, an 8th grader at Darlington Elementary/Middle School was diagnosed with histiocytosis, a rare blood disease caused by an excess of white blood cells called histiocytes which can cluster together and attack skin, bones and organs, at just 5 months old, and has had to deal with the disease for essentially his entire life.
    As a result of this disease Joseph has gone through a session of radiation as well as chemotherapy a total of three times and has developed scoliosis and complications with his thyroid and pituitary glands as a result of the disease.
    Joseph is on several medications and also gives himself a daily growth hormone injection, which arrives in monthly shipments to the Thulis household in a styrofoam cooler.
    Back in 2011 Joseph decided to begin selling the many coolers that were piling up and donate the money to the Histiocytosis Association of America.
    “He’s always had the huge goal of helping the association raise money,” said Joseph’s mother Angie. “We’ve leaned on the association for help and gone to them with questions, even though he doctors with the children’s hospital in Madison,” she added.
    Joseph plans to have an informational booth in the gym of the Dora Ritter Wellness Center during the Bunny Hop to help inform people about his rare disease and will have door prizes available as well.

Funds raised from this year’s Bunny Hop will also go to the Willie Golackson family.

Willie was severely injured in an accident in January of 2013 when the semi he was driving overturned and slid into a ditch near Belmont.

Since then Willie has been going through extensive rehab and therapy in Monroe and can now slowly walk behind a walker and is concentrating on building his strength.

He is now down to six hours of rehab per week, originally it was 2 ½ hours each day. He is doing water therapy in a whirlpool currently and working on trying to move into a regular pool.

He also works out at the Wellness Center in Darlington between four and five times a week, using the new step machine and other pieces of equipment he can utilize. “It’s a great facility here for a small town,” he said of the wellness center.
Willie explained that his wife, Debbie, helps him out extensively, as well as his four children: Chad, Chelsie, Cori and Cayla.

“My wife helps me out with everything and the kids are always right there as well if I need anything,” said Willie.
Willie also spoke of the great support and help he and his family have received from friends and community members since his accident.

“It’s just overwhelming and surprising how when you get in trouble how much people will help you,” said Willie. “This year we were running short on firewood so about 20 people came out and collected and chopped more for us.”

The Dora Ritter Wellness Center is planning for the Bunny Hop to be a family centered event and will be having free games in the wellness center’s gym for younger kids as well as refreshments and a visit from the Easter Bunny, who will be available for pictures.

Community members not involved in the run/walk are welcome to come take their photo with the Easter Bunny, however there will be a small fee. For participants in the run/walk a donation would be appreciated for visiting the Easter Bunny.

Registration the day of the the run/walk will be at 8:30 a.m. in the wellness center gym and the actual run/walk will begin at 9:30 a.m. Participants can pre-register online at under the wellness center link and pre-registration forms are available at the wellness center, Piggly Wiggly and The Cut Above.

The pre-registration deadline is April 10 for a guaranteed t-shirt, although people can also register the day of the run/walk.

Cost of registration is $22 for an individual, $37 for a couple and $18 for a child ages 12 and under. If a family has two or more children registering they will receive a family discount of $15 for the children instead of $18.

Anyone with questions can contact Amy Prine at 482-0988.