Like many dads and grandfathers, John McClure wanted to take his family on a memorable trip this summer. He looked forward to getting away, spending time with his wife and granddaughters and having fun – swimming, exploring, camping and seeing someplace different.
The McClures, who live in Cypress near Houston, ended up in Glen Rose. It may be McClure's last family trip for a while. The 70-year-old man has inoperable brain cancer and has undergone radiation and chemotherapy. He received a grim prognosis that he has six months to a year left to live. But the family remains hopeful that doctors can extend his life.
Thanks to the kindness of strangers who are strangers no more, McClure got his wish. Glen Rose rolled out the red carpet last weekend for McClure, his wife, Sabrina, and their two granddaughters Brooke, 10, and Caitlyn, 14.
To take a family vacation, they borrowed a camper and their church gave them $200 for gas.
“Their funds are severely limited,” said Jenny Goedken, a family friend and geometry teacher at Cy-Fair High School where Sabrina McClure is the assistant principal's secretary.
Sabrina had told Goedken that they would bring all their food in their camper.
“She told her granddaughter they would be unable to stop at McDonald's,” Goedken said.
Goedken, who is a graduate of Tarleton State University and a former Stephenville resident, rolled into action. She was familiar with Glen Rose and she wrote a letter asking for help: “If there is anything you can do to help make their time in Glen Rose special, will you please contact them?”
The letter ended up in the hands of Billie Kinnard at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. She and Dr. Patrick Condy, executive director, immediately agreed to help. Kinnard quickly got the McClures booked on a guided tour through the facility. She made some more phone calls and Glen Rose businesses and attractions responded with generosity.
Before long the McClures had a jam-packed itinerary for family fun.
After arriving at Dinosaur Valley State Park around 2 p.m. Saturday, the family got settled, then went to see the dinosaurs at Dinosaur World. Billy Huckaby, director of the Glen Rose Convention & Visitors Bureau, got the family passes to go swimming at Oakdale Park.
That was followed by pie for four at The Pie Peddlers on the square. Saturday night the family had reservations at the Riverhouse Grill. Afterward, they enjoyed VIP tickets to the “Land of the Dinosaurs” play.
On Father's Day, the family boarded a bus for a guided behind-the-scenes tour of Fossil Rim.
“They were a delightful family,” Kinnard said. “They were so appreciative. It was a great weekend.”
Hammond's Bar-B-Q furnished the McClures with lunch and T-shirts. The Tiger Corner convenience store donated a free tank of gas and breakfast Monday morning. Then the McClures left for Canyon, where Goedken had made arrangements for them to see the play “Texas!”
McClure said he appreciated the warm reception in Glen Rose.
“I enjoyed the hospitality of the people,” he said.
Anyone interested can follow McClure and his journeys or send him a message on the Web site caringbridge.org. Click on “visit” and type in “johnmcclure.”