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A day to remember

Single mom receives minivan, makeover from new friends

By KEVIN LYNCH Staff Writer Published: December 24, 2016 5:00 AM
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MILLERSBURG -- The gift of giving is often the best gift to give. But when someone spends their whole life as a giver, being on the receiving end of others' generosity is not always easy.

For Cheri Fleming of Millersburg, Wednesday, Dec. 14, was a day she will long remember.

Fleming is a single mother of three; her middle child is severely handicapped, making driving him in her small call nearly impossible.

After the blessings bestowed upon her Wednesday by a group of people who were complete strangers for the most part until the other day, Fleming found out it is good to receive sometimes.

"I cannot believe what you people have done. I'm completely speechless," she said between tears of joy. "I'm not very good at receiving. I just want to thank you all so much for everything. I still can't believe this."

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What Fleming was having such a hard time digesting was the unbelievable generosity of her new friend, Rayonna Miller, owner of Faithful Little Cupcake, Main Shop & Kitchen, 116 N. Main St, Orrville, as well as Faithful Little Cupcake stores in Wooster on the north end and in downtown.

"Cheri has been doing a lot of crying today. She is not used to being doted on," Miller said. "She's used to taking care of everybody else. She ended up in the hospital last night before all this. We just prayed that everybody be flexible, and we were able to get this accomplished."

And on Dec. 14, it all came together, when Miller told Fleming she had a little gift to drop off.

The gift turned out to be a refurbished Dodge Caravan that Miller said she prayed for and, through the grace and goodness of God, was able to deliver. Mark Mays of Pro Touch in Wooster detailed the vehicle, making it look better than new.

That is just the beginning of the story.

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"A friend I went to high school with in Orrville, his wife contacted me, and said, 'I need you to become friends with somebody.' When God calls you to do something, you do it, You don't question it," Miller said. "I became friends with Cheri on Facebook.

"I saw that her son Brian, who had some severe disabilities, was getting ready to have his 18th birthday," she continued. "Cheri was asking for people to send cards to Brian so he could have a card party for his 18th. I asked her if I could make a birthday cake for him.

"When we met, I gave him a two-tiered Mickey Mouse cake. He just loved it."

Miller also gave Fleming a Bible, and a friend who owns the Christian Bookstore in Orrville wrapped up a movie for Brian.

"Since then, a few months ago, Cheri and I kept in touch over Facebook, messaging each other every once in a while," Miller said. "I knew that God has placed her in my life for a reason, and I continued to pray for her."

Miller learned that Fleming is a single mom, who raised three boys on her own. Brian is a full-time job for her.

"She puts her boys first and always puts herself last," Miller said. "I asked her one time how I could pray for her, and jokingly, she said, 'Why don't you pray for a van.' She explained she has a small car and, with Brian in the car, if he has an episode where he starts swinging his arms, it is very dangerous.

"She thought I was crazy when I told her I would start praying for a van for her," Miller continued. "I did start praying for a van, but more than that, I prayed that Jesus would show himself in her life."

Miller said that within a few weeks of praying for Cheri, her girlfriend Kim texted her out of the blue and asked her if she knew of anyone who could use a minivan.

"Of course, I was completely blown away," she said. "I looked up and said, 'Really, God! That quickly!, Really!' Amazingly, yes, I do know of somebody who needs a minivan."

A woman in Burbank with four children was getting a new van, and instead of trading her van in decided to bless somebody with the old Dodge Caravan.

"She told Kim and Kim asked me and I just about fainted," Rayonna said. "It shouldn't surprise me, though. God is absolutely still in the business of working miracles. When I would share this story with friends, they all got on board praying for Cheri. That's when my buddy Lena (Schlabach) asked how she could help, and what she could do to get involved.

"I asked Rayonna what the best part of her day was and she said 'tomorrow I get to give a friend in need a minivan.' That's when I asked how I could help," Schlabach said.

Schlabach, who owns Farmhouse Frocks in Millersburg, offered to bring Fleming in to her studio and get her decked out in a nice new outfit.

Lena introduced Rayonna and Cheri to Barb (Chalmers) Miller owner of Restorationdetails.com, who took Fleming to get a makeover at a Millersburg salon. The girls at Creative Edge provided her with a gift bag as well as a new hairdo.

"Thank you Lena Schlabach and Barb Miller for making me look and feel beautiful again," Fleming said. "I am eternally grateful for everything you did."

Schlabach says she was happy to join in the fun, giving Cheri some proof that there are lots of good people in the world, and that there is a God that hears your prayers.

"Cheri has a hard time believing how good God is. When Rayonna told her she was going to pray for a van for her, Cheri responded, 'You can pray all you want. I don't have any money or credit to buy a van.' That didn't deter Rayonna," Schlabach added.

Reporter Kevin Lynch can be reached at 330-674-5676 or klynch@the-daily-record.com.

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