It’s a friendship they never planned on, but now, can’t imagine being without.
In St. Lucie County, at the Fairwinds golf course, a boss and one of his long-time employees are putting that friendship to the test, with one making an incredible sacrifice to help the other facing a deadly diagnosis.
Now, the community is also stepping in to help.
Linda Young and Christopher Gamble have worked together for nearly 20 years. Most of the time, you’d see them giving each other a hard time, or laughing.
“Oh, she’s real easy to pick on...she teases pretty much everybody,” Gamble said.
Linda’s larger than life personality draws in nearly everyone she encounters. “The golfers wave at me, blow me kisses,” Young said. “It’s never boring, I’d say that,” Gamble laughed.
Gamble said after knowing each other for decades, Linda is now more like a big sister.
“That's because she’s old…” Gamble laughed.
"I’m not old I’ve just been here a long time!” laughed Linda.
But like any relationship, it’s not always fun and games.
Linda’s real family has gone through some hard times. Not long ago, she fought to get custody of her three great-nieces and nephews, who she refers to as her grandchildren.
But, a judge wouldn’t grant the adoption unless Linda had a “backup” adoption family.
Without much family to turn to, she took her chances and turned to Chris, and his wife, Cory.
“Be my backup adopter,” Linda asked.
He hardly hesitated.
"He said Okay, I got to talk to Corey. Corey said tell her to bring the paper,” Linda said.
“It was either see the kids go into the system or get them. And that was the only way to get them,” Chris said.
Because of Chris, Linda got custody of the three kids, who are her pride and joy. “I tell you, that’s my sister and brother from another mother,” Linda said. Now, they all spend time together, with the kids, on the weekends, strengthening their bond.
But Chris admits, they never truly thought they’d have to honor that backup adoption plan. They just wanted to help Linda get custody.
All of that changed this fall.
“I go through my phone and just read things about cancer and stuff like that now…” Linda said.
She was recently diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
Chris, like a brother would, goes with her to her appointments. And despite all the hope they have for her to beat cancer, they’re also planning for the worse.
Now, they know the backup plan is more important than ever, recommitting to take in all three kids, so they can stay together, and live with a family they already know and love.
It gives Linda one less thing to worry about while she makes the most of her time with them…. and with Chris and Cory
One of the children recently got all As on a report card and expressed a desire to go to Disney.
Cory and Chris knew they had to make this happen, not knowing what Linda’s future holds.
They know it could be a way to give the kids a cherished memory with Linda.
This week, Scott Van Duzer at Big Apple Pizza is holding a fundraiser to send Linda and the kids to Disney. He wants to be able to pay for tickets, experiences, and assistance Linda might need to get around the park with them.
You can help by attending the fundraiser Wednesday, November 14 from 4-10 p.m. All proceeds will go to the Young family.