Lu Huggins Devoted Her Life to Helping Others
Lu Huggins at Miles for Matheny 2009 with
left, Harrison Lynch, center, and her brother Leon Martel,
Lu Huggins, Matheny trustee emeritus, who died August 13, never let her own debilitating illness keep her from devoting her life to helping others. In fact, she often used her own illness to inspire others. As a classroom volunteer in the Matheny School several years ago, she served as a role model for Matheny students – showing them that someone in a wheelchair could lead an active, productive life.
In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Lu and her husband, Bob, would host semiannual parties at their Basking Ridge, NJ, home for some of the Matheny students. She was concerned that, “the kids had no idea what life was like in the real world. And no one in the community ever saw them.” That’s when she thought of having an event, such as a wheelchair walk, that the Matheny residents could share with the community. Lu finally saw her idea become a reality in 1998 when Matheny held a wheelchair walk and cycling ride, followed by a small picnic. That was the first Miles for Matheny, which has grown to include several cycling rides, a 5K run and a kids fun run. In 2005, the wheelchair walk was named the “Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk” in Lu’s honor. And in April 2006, Lu was named an Outstanding Philanthropist by the Association of Fundraising Professionals-New Jersey Chapter.
Reflecting on Miles for Matheny a few years ago, Lu admitted that, “We never thought it would grow as large as it has, but the appeal has always been, ‘get the kids involved’.” She was thrilled that, “People were sitting on their porches clapping. The kids were so happy.”
Everyone who met Lu was inspired by her. She was a hero, a humanitarian and inspiration to everyone. Matheny thanks Lu Huggins for everything she did for us and the community at large. She will be missed, but her spirit will be with us always.