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December 20, 2013

Local eagle soars with Christmas spirit despite illness

CHICKASHA —

Six weeks ago, Jimmy Hawthorne reached in his pocket and pulled out the greatest fundraiser the Chickasha Fraternal Order of Eagles has seen yet. 

With a handful of quarters, Hawthorne challenged the other patrons at the Eagles Lodge to match his donation for the Santa's Workshop in Chickasha. Santa's Workshop makes it possible for needy families to provide Christmas presents for their children. 

The Eagle Riders raised about $2,600 this year through bike runs, poker runs and a monthly burger fundraiser. 

Hawthorne's Quarter's for Kids raised $3,500 in six weeks. 

Kathy Mayo, of Santa's Workshop, said that the charity could not have provided for the kids who benefited from this donation without Hawthorne. Through donations, Santas Workshop provides a large $20 gift and a small $5 gift for each child. Hawthorne's donation provided for 140 children who otherwise might not have anything for Christmas this year. 

"We couldn't have done this without him," Mayo said. "We would have had to cut back." 

That first night, Hawthorne's Quarters for Kids collected $25. The jar on the Eagles Lodge Bar continued to collect quarters. As the collected amount grew, so did the generosity of the Eagles. 

The donations evolved from quarters to dollars to even hundred dollar bills donated by a few individuals. 

Hawthorne's inspiration to give came from his ongoing battle with terminal liver cancer. He was diagnosed in 2009, according to his sister, Patricia Pool. Hawthorne currently lives with Pool. 

Hawthorne, a lifelong Chickasha resident, said he has always ridden a motorcycle. He has also worked as a truck driver for his brother, Sammy Hawthorne, but is currently retired. 

Friends and family of Hawthorne say he's always had a heart for kids.

Pool said that Hawthorne brothers helped the neighborhood kids with their bikes. Sammy would buy the parts and Jimmy would use his mechanical talents to fix them. 

Robin Morgan, Eagle Riders President, said that Hawthorne is a "straight shooter" and always keeps his word. He's always finished the motorcycle rides, even while he was ill this summer, Morgan said. 

The Quarters for Kids jar will be an ongoing legacy of Jimmy's heart for others, and will have it's place on the bar all year round.

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