Who Are We Wednesdays - DOWNwithTHEdeans
KUNKLETOWN --- For many families, Easter is about bringing family and friends together in celebration. It also is tradition to have egg hunts for kids after the Easter Bunny lays its eggs. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, folks had to celebrate the holiday in less traditional fashion this year. One local couple saw that as an opportunity.
Samantha Dean, her husband Phil and their three young children live in Eldred Township, Monroe County. Like the rest of us, the Dean's have been trying to figure out how to get through this tough time while being quarantined.
“I'm usually always quarantined. I’m a stay at home mom haha,” Samantha joked.
One way Samantha has acquainted her family to home life is by playing games together. The Dean's have had a ton of fun. Don't take my word for it. Just look at the Facebook page they recently created called, 'DOWNwithTHEdeans.' The Dean's have hosted 'Family Feud Night' with group members and given out prizes to the winners such as gift certificates to local restaurants.
In the week since the group was created, the Dean's have attracted more than 100 members. Having that kind of audience is something the family thought they could capitalize on and did. But before we get to what the Dean's accomplished, you have to understand more about their background, specifically Samantha's story.
Samantha grew up in Moore Township, Northampton County. She says she and her family were very close especially her and her mom.
"She was my best friend," Samantha explained. "We would have dance parties in the kitchen. She would always play like records or the radio. Half of the time, I didn't know what it was (what type of music) but we just had a good time.”
Samantha says her mother, Carol Paules, "had a heart of gold and was a bright light in everyone's life." However Samantha says that light that shined so bright would flicker from time to time during Carol's fight with breast cancer.
Paules was first diagnosed with the disease in 1995 and had to have her left breast removed. Samantha, who was a young kid at the time, says she did not fully comprehend what was going on with her mom.
"We just knew that she wore wigs and we didn’t know why,” Samantha says.
Carol would win the first bout but the cancer returned in 2013. This time, Samantha says she had a better idea of the situation.
“Obviously, we were all very scared and wanted to help her in anyway that we could but she did not wanna accept help from anybody. She was very selfless,” says Dean.
Paules fought for two years through chemotherapy and radiation treatments and beat it again.
“We kind of felt like ok maybe this is it. She beat it and we’re done. It just made me appreciate time with her so much more than before,” Samantha says.
However, the cancer came back again in 2017. This time it had metastasized. Samantha was emotional in explaining why she knew this would be the toughest fight for her mother.
“Trying to remain optimistic was hard. Me and my mom never talked about it but we always just talked about how she was going to beat it and what we were going to do to try to help her beat it. We always remained positive even though in both of our heads we knew what was going to happen.”
Carol's fight ended last August. She was 61 years old.
"She absolutely qualifies for sainthood. She cherished family more than anything, and embraced every moment spent with us. She was full of life, and taught us to enjoy the simple things," Samantha says.
One of the things Samantha says her mother loved most was Easter.
“She always made sure to have an Easter egg hunt out in the yard for us. She always got us the the biggest chocolate bunnies for us because she knew if we were not going to eat it she was going to finish it,” Samatha laughed.
Now as a mom, Samantha typically hosts her own egg hunt for her and her friend's kids. But realizing this year's holiday would be different in so many ways, Samantha had an idea.
“I was trying to think of ways to let the kids that we see see the Easter bunny because we have a costume, and then I’m like oh we’ll do like a drive-by kind of thing."
Last Saturday, Samantha convinced her husband to put on the bunny costume and pop out at different locations in Monroe and Northampton counties to greet kids and take pictures with them from a distance. After nearly eight hours with their kids in the car, the Dean's ended up stopping by 14 houses.
“Everyone was thrilled. The kids were excited. Their faces said it all. We were super excited (too). It felt so good. We made so many people's day and it just felt like a good Easter weekend,” says Dean.
The Dean's 'Easter Drive-By' will have a longer lasting impact than Easter weekend. The couple accepted cash and online donations from folks who wanted them to come by along with others in the community. And after Facebook matches their efforts, the Dean's will have raised about $415. The proceeds are going to both Every Ribbon Counts as well as local restaurants who are facing hardship during the pandemic.
“My mom went through breast cancer for many many years so it feels good to be able to give back to something that could help other families going through the same thing,” says Samantha.
So as we continue to navigate through these uncharted waters and eventually make it through them, remember stories like Samantha Dean's and how she helped steer us all back in the right direction.