MATTOON -- Wearing an "open heart warrior" T-shirt, 5-year-old Lyndsey Grubbs of Charleston gave a thumbs up as big trucks gathered for a Walmart Heart convoy in her honor Tuesday morning.
Lyndsey. who successfully underwent open-heart surgery on July 16, then put on an honorary Walmart trucker shirt and hat to wear while riding in this celebratory convoy from the Mattoon Walmart to the Charleston location. She is the daughter of Jayme and Brianna Grubbs.
"I am just humbled by it. There are no words I can put to it other than I'm humbled to see so many people I don't even know come out to show their support," Jayme Grubbs said as he stood with his family in the Mattoon Walmart parking lot.
The Walmart Heart program aims to provide seriously ill children and others in need, such as wounded veterans, and their families with a positive experience to help lift their spirits. The Walmart Heart trailer is decorated with pictures of those who have been served by this program. A portrait photo of Lyndsey was added to the truck for Tuesday's convoy.
Lyndsey rode in the Walmart Heart truck during the convoy. Participants also included fire and police vehicles, other Walmart trucks, a Coles County Truck Convoy for Make-A-Wish Illinois truck, Spiritual Disciples Motorcycle Ministry bikers, and more.
Lyndsey received presents and her family received donations during parties at the Mattoon Walmart before the convoy started and at the Charleston Walmart afterwards.
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Convoy participants held off on entering the Mattoon store until after Walmart locations nationwide held a moment of silence at 9 a.m. Tuesday for victims of the recent mass shootings at an El Paso, Texas Walmart and outside a Dayton, Ohio nightclub. The convoy participants said a prayer for these victims while gathered in the parking lot.
The convoy was organized with the help of Walmart truck drivers Tom Dees of Taylorville; Rodney Morgan, Charleston native who now lives in Princeton; and Richard Newman of Rochelle. They volunteer with Walmart Heart. Newman said the event celebrating Lyndsey was his second convoy with this program.
"I enjoy it, anything I can do to help out," Newman said.
Lyndsey's convoy began taking shape when Morgan met her and her grandmother, Diane Grubbs, on June 29 at the Charleston Walmart. Morgan was there with a Walmart Heart team of five trucks that was taking a seriously ill Paris boy on a ride in the Coles County Truck Convoy that day.
Diane Grubbs, of Charleston, has said her granddaughter had a hole, known as an atrial septal defect, that was detected last fall during her fifth-year checkup. She has said doctors at OSF Children’s Hospital in Peoria used Lyndsey's own tissue to close this hole during the surgery.
Brianna Grubbs said during the convoy on Tuesday that her daughter has recovered well from the surgery and that Lyndsey now says, "I'm a brand new girl."