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Hospice patient fulfills dream of hosting voter registration drive

Tom Brooks with Crossroads Hospice helps Barbara Mitchell (l) and Debra Dingler get registered to vote.

Tom Brooks with Crossroads Hospice helps Barbara Mitchell (l) and Debra Dingler get registered to vote.

LAKE CITY — William Thompson always wanted to run for public office but never got the chance.

For some, that chance is still viable, a dream that could one day be attained but Thompson has reached the end of his shot at "one day."

Thompson, 63, has advanced liver disease and is under hospice care at Lake City Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

With the help of the center and Crossroads Hospice and its Gift of a Day program, Thompson was able to fulfill a dream to host a voter registration drive Wednesday. The Gift of a Day program is based on the question, "If you had one day left, how would you spend it?" Thompson said he wanted to make a positive impact.

Center workers decked out the cafeteria in red, white and blue, displayed the U.S. flag throughout and grilled all-American hamburgers and hot dogs in his honor. Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt also showed up to give a patriotic speech about making informed decisions. He said voters have the power to make a difference in the county.

"With the situation in our county, do you think Dell Computers would locate here?" he said. "I don't see that happening, them or any high-tech companies. And the biggest reason for that is people voting for people while they are uninformed. We have a very important election coming up and you need to make an informed decision if you are going to vote."

Oswalt also offered residents a chance to meet with him any time to get the facts on a particular issue.

"If there is any way I can help inform you, I'd be glad to sit and talk with you," he said. "I applaud you and this young man here for getting involved. You know, voting is a right, not a privilege and you need to know who you're voting for. Some people running for office shouldn't be running. For them, it's a 'me' thing when it needs to be a 'we' thing."

Soft-spoken and unable to hold the microphone in his hands for long, Thompson reiterated what Oswalt said.

"If you'd just listen to what the honorable mayor had to say, I think you can see he's trying to do everything he can for us," said Thompson. "There are so many things I'd like to do, there are so many things we need."

After his brief speech, residents were helped with filling out either a voter registration card or an absentee ballot. While they filtered out of one room into another, Thompson again talked about the importance of what he was trying to achieve.

"Voting is very, very important and it's very serious," he said.