When Ken Kodet purchased a pink Christmas tree and put it in his window at Uptown Commons in Chilton last Christmas, it became something of an attraction.

Kodet said he could see cars slowing down on the street outside to get a look at the tree in his apartment window, and also saw people looking and pointing as they came out of buildings across the street.
“It was quite the attraction,” Kodet said of the tree which has pink lights and is flocked in a pink material.

But this Christmastime the tree was moved and took on a much greater meaning than simply an unusual and attractive tree.
This year the tree has been located just inside the front security door at the residential facility. More importantly, Kodet and fiancée Barb Smith encouraged their fellow Uptown Commons residents to make their own ornament for the tree which remembers someone in their lives who has fought one or more life threatening diseases. The pink on the tree represents the fight against cancer, but Kodet said ornaments also pay tribute to people who have passed or are still fighting things such as strokes, diabetes, heart and lung diseases, etc.
Kodet’s mother Phyllis passed away in May 2009 from cancer. The two of them were living in Manitowoc at the time. Her fight against cancer provided much of the inspiration behind Kodet’s purchase of the tree and the efforts of he and Smith to get other residents to help decorate it this year. They offered to help if needed, and about half of the residents at Uptown Commons helped put around 40 ornaments on the tree.
The tree was put in place on Monday, Nov. 26 and decorating began on Nov. 30. Kodet and Smith call it the “Tree of Hope: Present, Past, and Future.” They said the tree provides hope that people presently fighting serious disease can rid themselves of it; hope that people without such diseases never get them in the future; and hope that those who have passed are never forgotten.
“Everyone has lost someone to one of these diseases,” Kodet said. Each ornament bears the name(s) of people whom are being remembered.
The Tree of Hope is not the only Christmastime project which has been done at Uptown Commons as residents also did a Toys for Tots collection. “We try to do things that everyone can do,” Kodet said.
He and Smith also encourage other area facilities to do similar remembrances in the future if they are not already doing so.

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