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Shining Star: Merrie Lynne Zeigler

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Throughout the year, Toronto Nazarene Church plays host to monthly gatherings called the Mephibosheth Ministries, or M&M parties, for those with special needs.

The gatherings are a team effort, but one particular woman behind the party planning – Merrie Lynne Zeigler -- makes sure everyone has a good time.

The most recent party was held at the Toronto Shelter House for the end of the school year.

It was a night to play games and paint rocks.

“I'm a (cancer) warrior and I fought it,” Kaylee Peckens said. “It took guts, and I did a really good job.”

It was Peckens’ first time at an M&M party, and she says she'll be back.

“I like to come to these things and be with my special needs friends,” she said.

Merrie Lynne makes it all possible.

“She's a nice, kind person, and I would do anything for her – anything,” said Keshon Courtright.

“She's a wonderful lady, and she treats people really nice,” added Karin Lewis.

Merrie Lynne took over planning for the parties about 12 years ago, and will tell you she doesn't do it alone.

“I have a lot of help here,” she said.

The youth group from the Wintersville United Methodist Church plays a big role as well.

Merrie Lynne’s motivation is simple.

“It's near and dear to my heart, because I have a special needs daughter,” Merrie Lynne said.

Her daughter Lori is legally blind and suffers from a seizure disorder.

But like everyone here, she has an incredible zest for life.

“They bring us, I think, more joy than we get,” she said. “We just love having them.”

This week's Shining Star is giving those with special needs a reason to smile.

“They all love each other,” Merrie Lynne said. “They are very loving individuals, just wonderful to be around.

To find out how you can help, call (740) 537-3181.

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