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Young mom awaits heart transplant

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Photograph submitted

Melissa Wells is awaiting a heart transplant. She is pictured her husband Alex and son Sebastian.

A new mother, her family and friends are working to make it possible for her to watch her young son grow up.

Melissa Wells is fighting for her life as she awaits the heart transplant that’s necessary for her to live.

Melissa is the wife of Alex Wells, a graduate of Albany High School, and the daughter-in-law of Freddie Wells and the late Dave Wells.

Earlier this year, Alex and Melissa Wells welcomed their first child, a little boy whom they named Sebastian. It was only a few days after Sebastian’s birth that Melissa’s heart started to fail.

By Palm Sunday, Melissa was in cardiac shock with all her organs failing. Doctors at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City did open heart surgery to implant a ventricular assist device that now beats Melissa’s heart for her while she awaits a heart transplant. Doctors say a transplant is essential for her survival.

Melissa wants to spend many more years watching her son grow up. To do that, she needs help.

Unfortunately, Melissa’s hope for a new life comes at a very high price.

The average heart transplant costs nearly $1 million. And that’s only the beginning. Even with health coverage, which will cover a portion of the transplant costs, she faces significant expenses related to the surgery. For the rest of her life, she will need follow up care and daily anti-rejection medications, which will be as critical to her survival as the transplant.

A fund-raising pancake breakfast will be held from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Oct. 25 at the Albany Presbyterian Church at 205 N. Smith St. Contributions of any size will be accepted at the freewill fund raiser.

Secure online donations using credit cards can be made at In the top right-hand corner of the website visitors will see “Find an NFT Patient.” Click there to search for Melissa Wells’ information and learn how to make an online contribution.

Donors may also send a check to the National Foundation for Transplants, Kansas Transplant Fund, 5350 Poplar Ave., Ste 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Be sure to write “in honor of Melissa Wells” on the memo line of the check. Donations made to Melissa through the NFT are tax deductible. NFT will provide a receipt for donations $25 and over. For more information, contact the staff of NFT by calling 800-489-3863.

Contributions for Melissa’s heart transplant for those who do not need a tax receipt may be sent to Alex Wells, c/o Freddie Wells, P.O. Box 125, Albany, MO, 64402.


1941 roster finds home at armory

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DON GROVES/Albany Ledger

Bob Richards, one of the Rabbit Ridge Boys, presents a 1941 training roster of the 128th Field Artillery from Fort Jackson, S.C., Sgt. 1st Class Ben Fletcher, unit readiness non-commissioned officer for the Missouri Army National Guard's Battery A 1-129th Field Artillery in Albany.


By Don Groves

The Albany Ledger

Missouri Army National Guard's Battery A 1-129th Field Artillery in Albany gained another piece of its history.

A 1941 training roster from Fort Jackson, S.C., was presented Oct. 2 to Battery A. The roster provides a list of names still familiar in Albany when the battalion was the 128th Field Artillery.

Jim Mahoney found the roster as part of his stepfather Keith Dills’ possession. Mahoney and Dills’ daughter, Barbara Mahoney, were on hand for the presentation.

“My stepfather sent it from Fort Jackson to his parents in 1941,” Jim said. “It’s been rolled up 73 years. It’s a remarkable historic document.”

Bob Richards, one of the 128th members attending the 1941 training, presented the roster to Sgt. 1st Class Ben Fletcher, unit readiness non-commissioned officer. Richards said he, Dills, Gordon Manring, Kenneth Hunter, Pete Hunter and Rex Newman were known as the Rabbit Ridge Boys and were all part of the unit.

“We were all neighbors raised up together and during the Depression we would catch rabbits,” Richards said. “They’d pay 25 cents a rabbit. That’s how we got the name. Most of us joined in 1938.”

Richards and Roy Womack of Cameron are the only surviving members of the 1941 128th battalion. They served alongside the Sixth Armored Division in Europe during World War II.

Jim Mahoney said he discovered Battery A didn’t have a copy of the roster and thought the armory in Albany was the most logical place for its display.

“We’ll get it displayed proudly,” Fletcher said.

The armory has long been a part of Albany’s history. Fletcher said that some Guard units struggled with their communities but that isn’t the case with Albany.

“We are exactly what a hometown Guard is and we’re proud to be a part of it,” he said.

Sgt. Josh Ferguson said he too was proud to be a part of the community. He said Battery A is one of the best units in the state and Albany is the smallest community with an armory. He said he hopes to find even more historic artifacts to display at the armory.

“We’re very proud of the history,” he said.

Ferguson said he enjoys reading about the unit’s history and shared an Albany Ledger reprint called Fort Jackson Remembered about 1942 training at Fort Jackson.

“It’s the same antics going on today,” he said about the reprint.

Ferguson said he moved to Albany from Kansas City when he went full time with Battery A.

“I’m not originally from here but that’s what it means to us here in Albany,” he said.

About a dozen community members attended the presentation. Albany Chamber of Commerce president Brad Doolittle said the relationship between the Albany business community and the armory are important.

Jim Mahoney had the roster framed for presentation. He said digital copies are available from Image Quest in Kansas City at (913) 262-4355.

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