BONIFAY — When I met DeAnna Oldham at the chamber breakfast last month, I knew I had to interview her for my "Happy Corner." She impressed me immediately with her enthusiasm about her work and especially about Bonifay. Some people move to a small place like ours and find lots to complain about. She finds lots to brag about.
Though her mother hails from nearby Geneva, Ala, she married a career Air Force man and raised her family in California until DeAnna and her brother were in high school when they moved from there to Milton. DeAnna married right out of high school while attending the Milton campus of The University of Florida. After two children, she was divorced and as a single parent worked in food service and continued her education until she received her degree in Business Administration from U. of F. Shawnee’s restaurant in Pensacola promoted her to manager, but she loved working with people so she took a job as Church Administrator for Central Chapel associated with Churches of God.
Her concern for women who came to the church needing help led her to start a ministry called Women in Transition where she helped them to find agencies to help them with expenses; to find jobs; to find places to live; to find clothes to wear for jobs; how to interview for jobs, and ETC. The church continues that ministry still.
When her husband, Joshua Oldham, the son of Eugene and Julia of Bonifay, was transferred here for a job with the state three years ago, she made this their home and went to work as manager for Hardees of Bonifay. She has treated that establishment, not as a job with a hamburger chain, but as if it were her own private restaurant. She knows her clientele. The men’s group who eat breakfast there every morning are her personal friends. The ladies group who meet there on Fridays for lunch are known by name. The sisters who meet there weekly get special attention. The teens that congregate there on Friday nights are greeted by Mrs. Oldham. They know they are welcome there, but if they need correction, she supplies that.
Relay For Life has special meaning for DeAnna and she has agreed to be the Event Chair for Bonifay’s Relay in April of 2013. Her dad is now undergoing treatment for a recurrence of Hodgkin Lymphoma after an 11-year period of remission. About 12 years ago as she was holding her son’s hand as they walked for the relay in Pensacola, her dad was battling his first round of chemo from the disease. The son saw the luminaria being placed and he said, "We don’t want Granddaddy’s name on one of these." DeAnna realized that both her grandfathers had died with cancer, and she vowed that it was not going to rob her children of a grandfather if she could prevent it.
Since that time she has been involved with Relay and welcomes the opportunity to lead her newly adopted home’s event. Her goal is to answer any questions the public has, to teach us the mission of the American Cancer Society, and to raise awareness for the need to continue research to find a cure for this killer which is second only to heart attacks in the U.S . Bonifay Relay’s theme is Roping For A Cure and the sponsorship goal is $2000, $1600 of which has already been pledged.
Julia Bullington is the survivor chairman and she intends to find at least 50 survivors to attend the event where they will be honored guests
DeAnna says, "Bonifay is now my home. If I had known such a community existed while I was rearing my children, I would have come here sooner". Her children are Hannah Johnston who is a pre- vet student at University of West Florida, and her son Daniel Johnston is also at UWF hoping to pursue a degree in sports medicine or some related field. We welcome DeAnna and Joshua to Bonifay and look forward to future associations with this lady who is so willing to give of herself and her resources to make our community a better place. I urge you, along with her, to get your team together and begin planning for April 19, 2013. Relay is a lot of fun and is a major source of funds to fight cancer.