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RACINE — A Racine boater’s message in a bottle has brought hope and gratefulness to a Michigan local.

In an age of technology, an old-fashioned way of communication has united two strangers. Lake Michigan was the common denominator for Joanie Giusto and Toni Machuk.

Mysterious message in a bottle

On a summer day in June, Giusto was boating with her husband off the shore of Lake Michigan, not far from Reefpoint Brewhouse. While gazing at the lake, Giusto and her husband noticed something in the water. She retrieved a bottle with a message in it.

“We scooped it out of the lake and I got the message out,” says Giusto.

Unfortunately, the message was faded and hard to read. The boaters believe the message said, “I miss you, Uncle, Long live, I love you.”

There was no date signed or a location of where the message in the bottle came from. Finding this bottle prompted Joanie to pass along a new message in this bottle.

Giusto was quick to sign her location and the date. Two things she wishes she could have depicted from the note she found.

She says when she was writing her message, she was thinking, “everybody is usually going through something in their life, I hope whoever gets it, if anybody gets it, I hope they need it.”

Made it to Michigan

The message in the bottle was found nearly 100 miles away from Racine – across Lake Michigan – at Duck Lake State Park in Muskegon County, Michigan.

Toni Machuk, an avid beachgoer and beach glass collector, found the message in the bottle. She prides herself in being one of the first ones on the beach each day.

“I saw something bobbing in the water about three feet away. I’ve got one of those extended sand sifters and I pulled it out of the water,” says Machuk.

That was around the start of September, nearly two months after being re-launched into the Great Lake.

What Machuk didn’t realize when pulling the bottle out of the water is that it was more than a bottle. The bottle had sand and a message in it.

Even so, after retrieving it, she says, “I just got all excited and looked up to the skies and said, Thank you, Lord.”

Originally, she mistook the rolled-up letter for a cut-off straw. Regardless, she put the bottle with her belongings and went about her day collecting sea glass and searching for other treasures on the beach. Needless to say, it was a treasure to her.

Message reveal

“When I got home, my son goes, ‘Mom, did you read the message?'” She then said, “what message?” to her son.

Together, they unraveled a tightly rolled piece of paper once she knew that’s what it was.

Giusto wrote the following quote:

Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and loved more than you know

Guisto also encouraged the reader of the note to “do something nice for someone today.”

Machuk took those words seriously. Since finding the message, she’s been gifting some of her beach glass finds to other beachgoers. It’s a simple, nice way to bring joy to someone else through the beach.

“It was heartfelt when she wrote it. And definitely, I feel like I was the lucky one that found it,” says Machuk.

New age technology

While an old-school way of communicating brought them together, Facebook allowed the sender’s identity to come to light. Machuk posted a status explaining her findings and wanting to locate the bottle’s owner.

“It only took two days for her to find me,” says Machuk.

Giusto was shocked too, to learn the journey the bottle had taken and the search that ensued from the finder.

“I couldn’t believe anybody found it and I couldn’t believe anybody posted it and then found me,” says Giusto.

The two connected and are now friends on Facebook. They shared a mutual amount of gratefulness for finding each other.

“I told her (Toni) all I was hoping for is that it would end up in the right person’s hands,” said Giusto, that “it would end up in somebody’s hands that needed those words of encouragement and that someone would appreciate the message.”

The lake’s tides couldn’t have brought the bottle to anyone more appreciative.

“It’s once in a lifetime,” says Toni.


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