5K honors memory of woman who helped start non-profit

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OKEECHOBEE — This year, the Open Hands Health Center’s annual 5K fundraiser was run on Saturday, Nov. 14 in honor of Tyna Wilkins Futch, a woman who was near and dear to the hearts of everyone involved with Open Hands. For several years, Futch organized the event and kept things running smoothly, but after spending eight months in the hospital earlier this year, Futch passed away in October.

Not only did Futch organize the 5Ks, she also organized the Open Hands’ office. She was the volunteer office manager almost from the day the non-profit opened, helping to create documents, schedule volunteers, answer phone calls, file papers, train volunteers, make policies, resolve issues, maintain computer systems, etc.
She was an example of a hard working woman, who believed God was in control of her life.

Futch was born with Polycystic Kidney disease — a hereditary disease, and spent many years on dialysis. In 2016, she completed a regular dialysis session and realized she did not feel well. As the afternoon progressed, she began to experience tingling in her tongue and started to feel wobbly. Within 12 hours, all of her involuntary muscles began to shut down, and she was rushed to the hospital, where she was placed into a medically induced coma and put on a respirator because not even her lungs worked on their own. When asked if she was afraid when her body began shutting down, Futch replied, “No, I had peace about it. I knew God was in control.” She was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, and immediately began treatment. She was in a coma for ninteen days, and no one knew whether she would live or die, but twenty days after she was admitted, she was released, and three weeks after that, she was hobbling back into Open Hands Health Center to resume her volunteer work because she knew people needed her.

Three months after that, Open Hands held its annual 5K fundraiser, and Futch decided she was going to enter. She said she did it because three months earlier she could not even feed herself, and her son-in-law told her that if she would do it, he would do it too. It took her a lot longer to finish than it took all of the other contestants, but Futch was determined that she would complete the race, and accompanied by her grandsons, 4-year-old Ryan and 2-year-old James, she did. When they got to the finish line, she was presented with a plaque donated by Create and Decorate. Everyone present thought the plaque was perfect for Futch. It read, “Those who walk with God always reach their destination.” Those who knew Futch would say she has reached her destination. She is no longer in pain. She is no longer on dialysis. She no longer walks with a limp. She is where she always wanted to be, with her God, in Heaven.

Open Hands Health Center opened in March of 2015 and is supported by donations from local churches, organizations, and individuals. All donations are greatly appreciated and can be dropped off or mailed to the center. Please call 863-357-1257 and leave a message. Open Hands Health Center can also be found on Facebook.

All services provided by Open Hands Health Center are completely free. In order to qualify for medical care at the clinic, the patients must not have health insurance, and their income must fall within 200 percent of the poverty level. The center is located at 309 N.W. Fifth St., one block behind the Okeechobee County Courthouse.

Many people feel sorry for themselves when they are sick or when bad things happen to them, and to this, Futch always said: “Stop thinking about yourself, and help other people.” Futch was really good at helping other people. No matter how bad she felt, she put other people first. Open Hands Health Center is part of her legacy. Hundreds of people in Okeechobee picture her smiling face when they hear the words “open hands.”

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