Judith Hallock has been a peace activist all her life. As a co-founder of Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, an organization that uses nonviolent action to fight against nuclear weapons, she has spent years advocating for peace. She also co-founded a free health-care clinic in Sylva, among many other initiatives.
When Hallock was diagnosed with grade four brainstem glioma, an inoperable form of cancer, she was determined to spread a message of peace. Her son, Ty Hallock (of Top Floor Studios), remembers his mother telling him the story of Sadako Sasaki as a child. Sasaki survived the atomic bomb at Hiroshima in 1945 and was inspired by the Japanese legend that says that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted one wish by a crane. Sasaki dreamed of folding 1,000 cranes before she died of Leukemia, but succeeded only with the help of her friends. Judith’s friends and family are now coming together to honor Judith with 1,000 cranes of all sizes and colors.
David Hallock, Judith’s husband, remembers when their son Ty suggested folding cranes in honor of Judith. “I wish you could have see her face when Ty told her what he was doing. It lit up the whole room.” Hallock’s wish extends beyond her family. Local organizers and supporters came together at folding events that took place in the Bouchon courtyard and The Hop on June 8 and June 12.
By the end of the second crane-folding event, approximately 1,120 cranes took shape. Hallock is in awe of the support from the community. She says, “It makes me feel like the work of peace is still going … This part of my life is going to be enfolded in peace, prayers and cranes for world peace.” David describes this project as a representation of how Judith lives her life. “It expressed herself and was a tremendous way to transform people’s energy into something tangible that she could connect with,” he says.
The folding events were more like parties than solemn affairs, according to organizer Jennifer Saylor. “It was a colorful, beautiful event to see, with many hands of all ages and sizes, from child hands to the hands of elders, working quietly together to honor someone with our work,” says Saylor.
While Judith is confined to CarePartners rehabilitation, her wish for peace continues. Now volunteers are stringing the colorful birds across her hospital bed, giving her something beautiful to look at during these challenging days. Her husband, David, believes that this project has brought much-needed joy to this time in her life. “She felt like she was still spreading peace message through cranes. It made her feel empowered and useful.”
Although the goal of 1,000 cranes has been reached, the public is still encouraged to get involved. Paper cranes of any size can be mailed to 58 1/2 N. Lexington Ave. in Asheville. The effort is going strong at the “Fold a Thousand Paper Cranes for Judith Hallock” Facebook page.
Photos by Zen Sutherland