Giving to the givers: ‘Louisiana Crazy Ladies’ take big check to Arkansas

Published 12:10 am Saturday, December 11, 2021

LAPLACE — When Shane Lester of Little Rock, Arkansas opened his front door last week, he was met with Christmas caroling “Louisiana Crazy Ladies” who had traveled all the way from St. John the Baptist Parish with a special surprise in hand.

The ladies were holding a big check with an $800 donation to help the Lesters purchase bicycles to gift to children in need this Christmas season.

Shane and his wife, Mindy, met five of the ladies with local nonprofit group Perry’s Posse during an emergency drill on a cruise in 2016. That chance meeting blossomed into a beautiful friendship. Over the past five years, the Lesters have been ardent supporters of Perry’s Posse’s mission to provide financial and spiritual support to active cancer patients in the River Parishes and beyond.

Perry’s Posse member Joan LeBouef said the $800 did not come out of the Perry’s Posse budget. LeBouef called it “Louisiana Crazy Lady money,” comprised of personal funds out of the members’ own pockets as a show of appreciation for unwavering support.

When the ladies first met the Lesters in 2016, they had no idea Shane’s mother was battling cancer that had spread to her brain. A few days after the cruise, Shane sent the Louisiana ladies a text asking for prayers and support. Perry’s Posse didn’t hesitate to call, email and text words of encouragement.

After Shane’s mother passed away, the last line of her obituary read, “In lieu of flowers, donations to Perry’s Posse preferred.”

“Shane and Mindy have been donating two or three times a month to Perry’s Posse’s cancer patients. After they found out our big fundraiser with the Sheriff’s Office scheduled for November had to be canceled after Hurricane Ida devastation, they tripled their donations. That is what has kept us going as we are getting more and more patients each week,” LeBouef said. “It shows the goodness of people. People need to see that there are good people all over the world. The person next to you might be going through a whole lot so just show some kindness and compassion.”

With help from Mindy, the Louisiana Ladies coordinated a road trip to surprise Shane at his doorstep on the evening of December 3. During the drive, the amount on the check increased from $650 to $800 as some friends called in hoping to contribute.

“They rang the doorbell singing and holding this oversized cardboard check, which was precious,” Mindy said. “These ladies decided that, with their own personal funds, they wanted to contribute and be part of the bike ministry through our church even though they are from Louisiana.”

Mindy explained that a few years ago, she and her husband decided to collect donations for 20 bikes and match the donation with their own funds. This year’s goal was 80 bikes. Thanks to community donations, including those from the Louisiana Ladies, the Lesters are up to 137 bikes with a new goal of 150.

The Louisiana Ladies attended a morning church service at the Church at Rock Creek to learn more about the ministry. After church, they helped the Lesters pick out bicycles and loaded them into a trailer to be transported back to the church. During their visit last weekend, the ladies also enjoyed a bit of fellowship with the Lesters’ friends.

“I think that God works in wonderful ways,” Mindy said. “These ladies have such a spirit about them. They don’t meet a stranger. They are friendly, they are funny, they are loud, and they have such an accent compared to us here. They are such sweet, caring ladies. We became supporters because we like their ministry and what they do for people.”

Shane will be forever thankful for the grace shown to his mother near the end of a difficult two-year battle.

“If you’ve had a family member go through cancer and you solely try to take care of it, the fact that someone out there is praying for them and trying to give them feedback and just checking on them is so important,” Shane said. “Never let something jade you so much that you change who God made you. You continue to do what you’re supposed to while you are here on this earth. Things are going to happen sometimes. Don’t get discouraged if everything doesn’t work out the way you want it to. Keep supporting ministries. God will put the right ministries in front of you at the right time.”

Mindy added, “There are people in need all over, not just at this time of year. You never know what difference you can make giving a little extra on your tip or providing for a need, even if it’s anonymously.”