As I think about the joy this column has brought to me for 25 years, I cannot imagine what life would be like if I didn’t have a column to write every week.

I laugh when I think of my drive-by fans in Walmart as they hurriedly scurry by on their way to fill up their carts. (You know who you are.)

When you see me all bundled up with sunglasses and blankets and you say I look just like the picture in my column — that makes me smile because you can barely see my face under all the warm blankets. One of my favorite caregivers told me I look like a homeless person.

It doesn’t matter that I am all bundled up and I can only maneuver my wheelchair with one finger. You don’t seem to mind when I cut the corner short and bump into you.

When you see me out eating at Perkins or Pop Corner, I’m glad when you come up and talk to me. Everybody calls me by name.

I rolled my eyes one recent Saturday when a gentleman called me a local celebrity. I asked him if I had met him before, he said no, but I have known who you are for 25 years.

The notoriety that my column has brought brings me great joy. My writing validates me. What more could I hope for?

When a stranger once referred to me as the “woman in the wheelchair,” I didn’t like it. I knew I was much more than that.

I am Mary Hepburn, columnist. I am not Mary Hepburn, the woman with multiple sclerosis, and my column makes that possible.

You know exactly where I am coming from. We all need to have some sense of purpose in our life.

Keith Blackledge saw my passion for writing and living back when I was 18 and offered me a chance to become Mary the journalist. But it was all of you that read my words every week who helped me become who I am today.

I have never wanted for ideas. God made it possible that I never had to wonder what I was going to write about, or who was going to help me. Somehow, something always appeared, and so many people have stepped up to help me write the column.

The bottom line is telling the stories of ordinary people who do extraordinary things right here in North Platte. I want to shine the spotlight on the good things in this world that bring a smile to you, and then ultimately inspire you.

How do you put that into words? It is a big circle that starts and ends with God, and we are all in that circle.

I’ve written four columns about this 25-year journey. It has been pure fun for me to share my history with you. I am forever grateful that you have allowed me to take you on my journey. Without you, where would I be?

I’ll never get tired of telling you, “You keep reading, and I will keep writing.”

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