Carrying on her legacy

By Christopher Miles

March 5, 2014

Throughout her life, Savannah Wilson was a giver.

Always a smile on her face, Savannah was always willing to offer a helping hand to others. She loved life so much that she made it her mission to make sure others enjoyed theirs as well.

Savannah was born with a congenital heart defect which required a great number of surgeries in her 24 years. That was ironic because no one had a bigger heart than Savannah.

Upon her passing in January 2013, a fund was set up to make sure that the power of Savannah’s giving ways could continue.

Appropriately named ‘Savannah’s Helping Hand,’ gathered funds will be used to assist participants in the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ Special Olympics and Recreation programs with being successful.

“Special Olympics gave Savannah and others like her a sense of belonging,” said Savannah’s mother, Jean Hughes. “(To) be able to be a part of a team, it gave her meaning and purpose.”

Savannah participated in a number of Special Olympics sports, from bowling to track and field. But what Savannah was known most for was her play on the basketball court. As a member of the Madison County Tigers, Savannah was a tenacious defender — fearless when taking on players more than twice her size.

So it was quite meaningful when the London High School boys basketball teams decided to choose Savannah’s Helping Hand as an organization to sponsor.

Each year the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Foundation has a service week, affording schools the opportunity to use one of their five allotted preseason scrimmages as a fundraiser for a charitable cause of its choice.

“Players learn to give or help out those in need long before we as coaches start with them because they have good parents who already set this in motion,” said London High School boys varsity basketball coach Darren Long. “I know that I was taught at a young age by my mother and father to give back whenever possible and because I was taught those values, I now continue and teach them to my own children and to my players as well.”

According to London High School Athletic Director Jim Wolverton, the choice of honoring Savannah was an easy one. The Red Raiders donated their share of the game profits from a Nov. 19, 2013 scrimmage against Kenton Ridge.

“With her being a Madison County Tiger and being at the games all of the time, it’s very appropriate,” Wolverton said.

Long concurred the decision was a slam dunk as well.

“We donated the proceeds this year to Savannah’s Helping Hand because it was for a good cause and also because Savannah touched my own family in such a positive way,” Long said. “My wife Angie was a caregiver to Savannah for about two years, so we were able to witness firsthand how Savannah’s kindness impacted us and all others who knew her.”

In addition to her commitment to Special Olympics, Savannah was a tireless volunteer in her community.

Savannah was a longtime volunteer at Madison County Hospital — earning both Volunteer of the Year and Hometown Hero honors along the way.

Even in her final days, Savannah’s thoughts were with others as she got her hair cut to donate it to ‘Wigs for Kids,’ an organization helping children who are fighting cancer.

So even today, Savannah continues to inspire those who knew her.

“Our plan is to continue Savannah’s giving through this fund,” Hughes said. “She would be upset if I didn’t take care of her friends.”

To give to Savannah’s Helping Hand fund, please send your donation to Madison County Special Olympics, 500 Elm St., London, OH 43140. For more information, please contact MCBDD Recreation Coordinator Lincoln Comer at or (740) 852-7052, ext. 1917.