Westward for the Wallners

For: Bob and Mary Lou Wallner
Organizer: C & T Bakke-O'Neill
$8,109
of $8,000 goal.
Raised by 70 donors
100% Complete
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story

Many of you know of Mary Lou Wallner. She is the mother of a Christian, lesbian daughter who committed suicide as a result of homophobia, based on Mary Lou's religious views at the time and her inability to accept Anna as a gay woman (read more here).

Following Anna's suicide, Mary Lou and her husband, Bob, embarked on a remarkable journey to discover the truth about the Bible and LGBT people, and found transformation and healing. She and Bob dedicated themselves to speaking out against the consequences of homophobia, and she told her story, as painful as it was, to whomever would listen.

Her story has appeared in People Magazine and other media. She's been featured in the documentaries "For The Bible Tells Me So" and God and Gays: Bridging the Gap, as well as having published her own book, The Slow Miracle of Transformation: A Personal Journey of Hope and Discovery. She and Bob have traveled the country speaking to any group who would have them (often speaking for free, or just a bit of gas money). Mary Lou has also given in private ways by spending hours a week reading and responding to emails and phone calls from heartbroken children and parents on all sides of the issue.

What most people don't know is that Bob and Mary Lou have lived frugally on a small, fixed income for many years, and all of this activism work has come at a cost, financially and in many other ways. Mary Lou retired from her job as a nurse three years early in order to travel and tell her story, thereby limiting their social security income even further.

In addition, for the last several years, Mary Lou has struggled with many health issues, and Bob, who is now 82 years young, has had his own struggles caring for her and their mobile home. They are feeling increasingly socially isolated in Arkansas as they have become more vocal allies to the LGBTQ community, and have spoken out against homophobia and unloving attitudes within the church.

For all that Bob and Mary Lou have done for LGBT people and confused and hurting parents everywhere, as well as their education of the general public, we have a chance to give back.

Bob and Mary Lou are needing to relocate to Denver, where Bob has some family, people who could help them with everyday things, like-minded friends, wonderful medical facilities, and more options for senior housing. This fundraiser is to help with relocating and initial living expenses, including:
• Making their vehicle travel-worthy
• Taking a trip to Denver to find housing and connect with doctors
• Packing and moving
• Cleaning and selling their mobile home in Arkansas
• Getting a new living space set up in Denver (including first/last months rent, deposits, etc).

All money raised will be used for the cost of relocating and starting the next chapter of their lives. Any additional funds raised will be used to help with an increased cost of living and anticipated ongoing medical and rent costs after the move.

Through the years there have been many LGBT people who have told Mary Lou that they wish she was their mother. Many others have said that her story has saved their relationships with their children. If Mary Lou's story has helped you in any way, whether you are a parent, or a child that needed to hear from a loving mom, or just a person who has learned from her story, please consider giving back.

Any amount will help, and will be used wisely. If you do not use paypal (you can use it for credit cards even if you're not signed up for it) and would like to donate via check, please contact us using the button below.

There is a small team of people in Denver who are helping with the move, transition and financial details. All financial information (money raised and spent) will be available for donors upon request. There is also a need for practical, physical help, such as packing and lifting, sorting, driving, and so on (especially in Arkansas). If anyone can help with a move from Arkansas to Denver, please contact us through this page. Thank you.

Mary Lou does not use FaceBook often. To contact her or Bob with any words of encouragement, please email her at [email protected]

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on June 18, 2014

Posted on June 18, 2014

Hi friends, here is a personal message from Mary Lou:

Dear Friends,
There are no adequate words to express our thanks to ALL of you who donated to the fund to help us get moved from North Little Rock, AR to Aurora, CO.  Your donations made EVERYTHING possible, including the purchase of boxes, paying the mover, all deposits, first month's rent, new license plates for our vehicle (including getting our vehicle "road-worthy" before leaving AR), an initial stock-up of groceries and many more things that I can't remember.  Bob made the list and it was 1.5 pages long!!
And so, here we are in our tiny, 665 square foot apartment, with a lovely balcony and a great view of the mountains where we sit every morning and have coffee.  We have a year and a half year old kitty from the Denver Dumb Friends League and his name is Dewey.  He is very sweet and loving and quite funny as well.
Unfortunately, I am having some health issues right now, including a right full-thickness rotator cuff tear.  We're working on that.
We are blown away by your generosity and are VERY thankful to be here amidst friends and family.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
With much love,
MaryLouand Bob Wallner

Posted on May 3, 2014

Posted on May 3, 2014

Thank you one and all!

Bob and Mary Lou have successfully arrived in Denver! They are getting their new apartment unpacked, and beginning to settle in. Last night, they spent a bit of time sitting on their new balcony, watching a beautiful Colorado sunset and enjoying every minute of it (I'll upload a picture of that). 

One big, exciting piece of news is that they sold their mobile home! They didn't get what it was worth, but at least it sold (and for more than some had predicted). For those who heard about the tornado, it happened while they were still in Arkansas (although staying with friends in a brick building instead of the mobile phone) and it got within 6-7 miles of their home, but the home (and their packed possessions) was safe.

The generously donated funds covered the cost of the movers, Bob and Mary Lou's travel here, first month rent and all of the deposits required to set up services. It looks like there will also be some funds available to help with setting up a new house (food staples they couldn't bring with them, etc). 

They are overwhelmed by all the love and good wishes sent their way, and will put a personal message on an update when they get settled.

Again, thank you to everyone....

Posted on April 7, 2014

Posted on April 7, 2014

You did it! You helped us raise the money needed for Bob and Mary Lou's journey to Denver. The upcoming move would not be possible were it not for all the donations they've received....large and small. It's amazing to see people come together to give back, to touch the lives of those who have touched the lives of so many others. 

Mary Lou and Bob have been working on getting their addresses updated everywhere and getting utilities set up here in Denver. They are packed and ready to go and in three weeks they will be on their way. One of the loose ends hanging is still the sale of their mobile home. We are hoping that will happen very soon. They've lowered the price, and hope to see results. Please keep them in your thoughts. This is a very important part of the move. 

Thank you all again for your generosity and love and messages of support. All of you are appreciated and loved right back. 


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