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Orem family who lost son form jewelry company to help grieving families

Many people go about doing good deeds in their families, neighborhoods, organizations and church congregations. “Utah Valley’s Everyday Heroes” celebrates these unsung community members and brings to light their quiet contributions.

Lindsie Ward wears her son’s name around her neck every day. In the year since his death, she’s found peace in keeping those little letters close.

“I can carry a piece of Royce with me everywhere that I go,” she said.

Jaiden and Lindsie Ward have used their grief from their son’s accidental death to form Rightly Royce, a Utah-based company that creates custom jewelry for those who have lost a loved one.

“We want it to be a place where people in the same situation as us have somewhere to turn,” Jaiden Ward said.

Royce died three days after accidentally falling from a bed and going into cardiac arrest on July 4, 2018. He was 20 months old.

The Wards were in California, where Jaiden was doing summer sales, and returned to Orem afterward. But in the time after Royce’s death, they didn’t feel like stepping into a job that wasn’t fulfilling for them or lacked purpose.

“I think we just really had a hard time, especially since he was our only child,” Lindsie Ward said. “He was basically everything we thought about, at least for me. I stayed home with him every day.”

They’d received jewelry with Royce’s name on it after his death, and realized that they could help other families heal through customized necklaces.

“People always want to do something, but they don’t know what to do,” Lindsie Ward said.

The couple had no experience with jewelry, except for a class Lindsie Ward took in high school. She watched YouTube videos on how to stamp and solder jewelry, and the company was born.

The couple has a weekly booth at the Provo Farmers Market and donates 10% of their proceeds to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, one of the two hospitals Royce was treated at.

Rightly Royce gives them the opportunity to continue to introduce people to Royce and his personality. Lindsie Ward said he enjoyed making people laugh, was always dancing and loved watching Disney movies because of the colors and music.

The lyrics to the song “Remember Me” from his favorite movie, “Coco,” are etched into the back of his headstone.

Lindsie Ward creates the jewelry in Royce’s old bedroom, underneath his nursery’s wall decorations.

“We still wanted him to be a part of our lives and to be able to think of him every day,” she said.

Donating a portion of their profits is a way for them to give back to the hospital that cared for Royce. The Wards said the hospital would stretch the rules to allow their entire family into Royce’s room, instead of only letting in a couple of people at a time.

They also received help from their community following Royce’s death. A GoFundMe to help them with medical bills raised more than $70,000.

“After you lose especially a child, you don’t want to have to think about the bills,” Jaiden Ward said.

For Royce’s funeral, they asked for donated stuffed animals instead of flowers, and donated the toys to a hospital. They’ve also been up to Primary Children’s Hospital to visit and take Christmas gifts to a child who was hospitalized due to parental abuse.

Rightly Royce donates necklaces to families who have lost a child and features a family’s story every week.

“I think it is relieving for them to get their story out there and receive the support they need,” Jaiden Ward said. “Some of them, it’s been years and years, but they are still really hurt by what’s happened. Sometimes, you feel like the world continues on as normal and you are still trying to figure out life as it’s not normal.”

Thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses gather in Ogden for 40th year of conventions

OGDEN — About 4,200 participants participated in a regional convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses this weekend at the Dee Events Center.

Jehovah’s Witnesses from Utah, Nevada, Wyoming and Idaho attended, as well as some people from other areas, said Michael Germano, media host and volunteer at the event.

Anyone was welcome to attend. There was no charge for admission or parking, and the program of events is available online at

This was the 40th year the convention was held at the Dee Events Center, Germano said. The first convention held there was in 1980.

Germano said there are a couple of reasons Jehovah’s Witnesses in surrounding states continue to return to Ogden for their convention.

“(Ogden) is centrally located to the congregations that are invited,” Germano said. “Foremost ... the partnership that we’ve developed over the past 40-plus years — it’s very welcoming. ... It’s hard to go to a city that doesn’t want you there ... but Ogden has welcomed us with open arms, and we’re very appreciative of that.”

The visitors also bring about $2.5 million into the local economy, according to the denomination’s public information desk.

“The purpose of the convention is to improve Bible education, but also it helps us, we feel, to be better organized,” Germano said.

Over 500 conventions are being held at 125 venues around the world, and Ogden hosts two of them. The Spanish convention for the area, which attracted 3,800 participants and was held at the Dee Events Center from June 28–30.

Every convention uses an identical theme and program, which keeps everyone in the faith on the same page, Germano said.

“The theme this year is ‘Love Never Fails,’” Germano said. “We feel that in the world today, there is just a great lack of love, but if we focus on love and how that affects us as individuals, as family members, as members of the community, we’re hoping that the impact, to even the Ogden area, is felt months after we’re gone.”

Friday’s speakers focused on how love can help people “surmount obstacles such as a troubled upbringing, chronic illness or poverty,” according to a press release. On Saturday, the convention considered how the Bible can help family members show love for each another. Sunday’s program addressed overcoming prejudice and hatred.

Speakers at regional conventions are local elders in Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations in the region.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the creator is Jehovah and that Jehovah’s son, Jesus Christ, was sent to Earth to die for mankind. They are Christians and believe that Jesus Christ is the “first and foremost Jehovah’s Witness,” Germano said.

“Because of that ransom sacrifice, the death of Christ, we have a hope for the future that’s wonderful,” Germano said. “We do look forward to much of what we see today changing for the better very soon.”

The beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses are based in the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, which the faith recognizes as “God’s inspired message to humans,” according to its website.

The faith is headquartered in Warwick, New York. There are more than eight and a half million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, making up almost 120,000 congregations.

Poll: 1 in 4 don't plan to retire despite realities of aging

CHICAGO — Nearly one-quarter of Americans say they never plan to retire, according to a poll that suggests a disconnection between individuals’ retirement plans and the realities of aging in the workforce.

Experts say illness, injury, layoffs and caregiving responsibilities often force older workers to leave their jobs sooner than they’d like.

According to the poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 23% of workers, including nearly 2 in 10 of those over 50, don’t expect to stop working. Roughly another quarter of Americans say they will continue working beyond their 65th birthday.

According to government data, about 1 in 5 people 65 and older was working or actively looking for a job in June.

For many, money has a lot to do with the decision to keep working.

“The average retirement age that we see in the data has gone up a little bit, but it hasn’t gone up that much,” says Anqi Chen, assistant director of savings research at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. “So people have to live in retirement much longer, and they may not have enough assets to support themselves in retirement.”

When asked how financially comfortable they feel about retirement, 14% of Americans under the age of 50 and 29% over 50 say they feel extremely or very prepared, according to the poll. About another 4 in 10 older adults say they do feel somewhat prepared, while just about one-third feel unprepared. By comparison, 56% of younger adults say they don’t feel prepared for retirement.

Among those who are fully retired, 38% said they felt very or extremely prepared when they retired, while 25% said they felt not very or not at all prepared.

“One of the things about thinking about never retiring is that you didn’t save a whole lot of money,” says Ronni Bennett, 78, who was pushed out of her job as a New York City-based website editor at 63.

She searched for work in the immediate aftermath of her layoff, a process she describes as akin to “banging my head against a wall.” Finding Manhattan too expensive without a steady stream of income, she eventually moved to Portland, Maine. A few years later, she moved again, to Lake Oswego, Oregon.

“Sometimes I fantasize that if I win the lottery, I’d go back to New York,” says Bennett, who has a blog called Time Goes By that chronicles her experiences aging, relocating and, during the past two years, living with a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

Meanwhile, Americans have mixed assessments of how the aging workforce affects workers: 39% think people staying in the workforce longer is mostly a good thing for American workers, while 29% think it’s more a bad thing and 30% say it makes no difference.

A somewhat higher share, 45%, thinks it has a positive effect on the U.S. economy.

Working Americans who are 50 and older think the trend is more positive than negative for their own careers — 42% to 15%. Those younger than 50 are about as likely to say it’s good for their careers as to say it’s bad.

Just 6% of fully retired AP-NORC poll respondents said they left the labor market before turning 50.

But remaining in the workforce may be unrealistic for people dealing with unexpected illness or injuries. For them, high medical bills and a lack of savings loom large over day-to-day expenditures.

“People like me, who are average, everyday working people, can have something catastrophic happen, and we lose everything because of medical bills,” says Larry Zarzecki, a former Maryland police officer who stopped working in his 40s after developing a resting tremor in his right hand and a series of cognitive and physical symptoms he at times found difficult to articulate.

At 47, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Now 57 and living in Baltimore, Zarzecki says he has learned “to take from Peter and give to Paul, per se, to help make ends meet.”

Zarzecki has since helped found Movement Disorder Education and Exercise, a nonprofit organization that offers support and treatment programs to those with similar diseases and certain traumatic brain injuries. He has also helped lobby state and national lawmakers to address rising prescription drug prices.

He receives a pension and health insurance through the state, but he spends more than $3,000 each year out of pocket on medications.

“I can’t afford, nor will my insurance cover, the most modern medication there is for Parkinson’s,” he says. “Eat, heat or treat. These are decisions that people in my position have to make. When it’s cold out, or if it’s real hot out, do you eat, heat (your home) or treat (your ailment)?”