Hop For Heroes: Our Story
In November of 2017, Celine Larson, co-founder of Grandpa’s Best, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma. After being declared in remission in 2010, this aggressive cancer returned and invaded her liver, lungs, and brain. As Celine, Chase, and their four young girls learned how to navigate this devastating illness with a supernatural grace, they also discovered the unsung heroes who supported them in their hardest moments, first responders. While it can be easy to overlook these medical professionals, they are critical to surviving life threatening illnesses and injuries. As luck, and God, would have it, Celine and Chase would encounter people along their journey that would shape how they understood first responders, those brave professionals who turn up when help is needed, often for very little pay.
When booking a flight back to Kansas after yet another round of cancer treatment in Houston, TX, a technological malfunction lead Chase and Celine to meet Frank Williams, the director of Lifesave Transport, a company dedicated to providing compassionate air and ground transport for critically ill and injured patients in an effort to transform rural emergency medical transport. Because the computer system would not allow Chase to choose adjoining seats, the couple was split up for the trip. Celine ended up seated next to Frank, a lifelong first responder, Frank had a deep understanding of the kind of emergency care Celine might require as a rural resident with a life-threatening illness. Celine, Chase and Frank formed an immediate and life-changing friendship. Frank would call to see how the family was doing and they would call him when they had emergency questions. Frank would drive over 300 miles to see Celine in the days leading up to her death. The family referred to Frank as Celine’s guardian angel and continue to be grateful to God for his presence in their lives.
During one of their many visits to Houston, they encountered John and Janice Griffen. The Griffens struck up a conversation with Chase and Celine during dinner, and the two couples became fast friends. They quickly discovered that the Griffen’s manufactured ambulances and were given a tour of their facilities. Chase and Celine would eventually refer to the Griffens as their “Houston parents.”
Living in a very small town meant that Celine and Chase had the opportunity to meet and befriend the person who might be, as Celine put it, “picking her up off the floor at some point.” Dave Holloway is the director of the local EMT; he and his wife Lisa would become close friends of the couple and provide end of life care to Celine in her final weeks.
Finally, Celine and Chase crossed paths with Lisa Melton, a local nurse. As part of her professional development, Lisa attend a conference at which Frank Williams was presenter. After discovering she was from the same small town as Celine, Frank asked if Lisa knew her. Upon her return home, Lisa found Celine at a softball game and the two became fast friends. Lisa also provided Celine with end of life care and support.
During her illness, Celine discovered her passion the work of first responders and was planning to pursue a career in first responder support once she was in remission. Tragically, Celine passed away in late 2019 and her family is dedicated to continuing her legacy of selflessly uplifting others by donating a portion of the proceeds from each purchase of a Grandpa’s Best product directly to a first responder in need of financial support.