By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor
Back in 2003, when Skyler Munson was three years ago, her then step-father’s National Guard unit was deployed to Fort Drum and then onto Iraq. That’s when Skyler, now a South High Marathon Dance student chairperson, first got to know Julie Coon.
Julie, a volunteer, ran the Guard’s Family Readiness Group at the old Armory on Warren Street in Glens Falls. Her husband Arthur was the National Guard recruiter.
Soon, Skyler and her mom Stacia were regulars at the Armory. “I remember the candy in the basement,” Skyler said.
Stacia said “we were there a lot,” especially after Nathan Brown of South Glens Falls was killed.
“That made it real for everyone,” Arthur Coon said.
Then, the Coons’ Queensbury home became the Munsons’ second home. “Their door was always open,” Stacia said. “Julie gets a very good read on people. She just knows what they need and just does it.
“She never stopped cooking for us, baking for us. And it was all volunteer.”
At one point, Stacia said Julie’s stove was down to one working burner. But instead of spending the money to get it fixed, she would “buy things for other families. She was always doing things for others.”
Now, 800 students will dance for her at the 39th annual South High Marathon Dance this weekend.
“Julie is the sweetest, nicest person I have ever known,” Skyler said. “I nominated her, and when I got up to speak at the meeting when the students decide on the recipients, the vote was unanimous.”
When Skyler went over to tell Julie she was selected to be a recipient, her reaction was to ask why. “She said someone else could use it more,” Skyler said. “She’s so selfless.”
Julie suffers from several health ailments, including arthritis. On July 4, 2014, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s in remission now, but the chemotherapy accelerated the arthritis and “I tore up one of my knees.” She had two operations, and while under anesthesia in December 2015, she had a stroke.
Julie is now getting physical and speech therapy, and talks a little slowly, but Skyler said “I am so impressed with her progress.”
Julie is still uncomfortable being a recipient. “It’s very hard,” she said. “I’m very, very honored. I love this kid so much. I never, ever dreamed of it….This will help pay some medical bills. It’s very overwhelming.”
Skyler says Julie “has done so much for so many. The dance is about giving back, and it’s so nice to repay someone like her.
“Every year is so emotional, and this year, being so close to Julie, it’s going to be insane. I cry a lot anyway, but these will be happy tears.”
Skyler, 16, said that having Julie as a role model has inspired her to serve others. She’s graduating a year early and wants to join the Peace Corps after college.
Skyler says, “We get thanked over and over by the recipients for changing their lives, but they are changing our lives, too. It’s shaped me into who I am, and I can’t wait to see what else and who else I am able to help in life.”
Copyright © 2016 Lone Oak Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.