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Jen Lydon's Fundraiser:

The Onny and Oboe Scholarship Fund

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Jen Lydon


The Onny and Oboe Scholarship Fund helps families directly affected by a heart transplant pursue post-secondary education. A second chance to live is a second chance to dream.

Last summer (and fall … Hello, winter?), with the help of family, friends and countless former strangers across this great country, I walked 3,500 miles from San Francisco, California to Ocean City, New Jersey to raise money for the Onny and Oboe Fund. (See

“Walk and be happy, walk and be healthy. The best way to lengthen our days is to walk steadily and with purpose.” – Charles Dickens

(When donating, please remark that funds are for "The Onny and Oboe Fund", which is managed by Philadelphia Foundation. You can also donate directly at the following address: and Oboe Scholarship Fund

So what's an Onny and an Oboe?

The legend grew from a tiny town in southeastern Pennsylvania, when a young girl named Deanna found herself short of playmates one day. Alone, in the backyard, a pair of twins – a boy and girl – found their way to Telford for a play-date with the homebound girl. Deanna had a heart condition and couldn’t always keep up with the other kids, running and playing, but that seemed to suit Onny and Oboe just fine, as the three idled the days away, playing with Deanna’s cats, digging in the dirt and dreaming under the stars.

Over the years, Onny and Oboe could be counted on to dust Deanna off, take her by the hand and guide her into a future unwritten, but fraught with challenges.

Skeptics would later call the two “imaginary friends,” the figment of a youthful imagination. What they couldn’t see couldn’t possibly exist. They couldn’t hear Onny and Oboe’s laughter. They couldn’t feel their embrace. Deanna knew her playmates were as real as the night sky, twin constellations illuminating the road ahead.

Forty years later and 3,500 miles away, Onny and Oboe returned. I heard them calling, sensed them nudging me forward. I’m recalibrating my life and putting my compass in their hands. I hadn’t been looking for them since Deanna passed a decade ago, tuning them out to cope, then forget, and finally move on. But there they were in California, tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “Let’s go!”

This scholarship is so named because of the promise Onny and Oboe hold – the future is undetermined, no matter the obstacles here on earth. There is always a path if we refuse to stop looking. This scholarship is not a memorial, but forward-looking. It maintains that adversity breeds greatness, and while dreams may elude our grasp, they still exist out there in the night sky. They remain for the taking. The Onny and Oboe Scholarship Fund celebrates the light every life can cast on the universe.

Exploration. Achievement. Realization. Seldom are they a straight line.

Onny and Oboe are for the believers, the dreamers and the resilient.

In the 40 years since their first recorded appearance in Telford, there have been countless sightings of Onny and Oboe.

People just don’t know what to call them.

-Michael Tittinger, April 2011


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Donor Comments




Donation for the Onny and Oboe Fund 7 years ago