Fundraiser supports families with a child diagnosed with cancer in need of financial support
Bossier Parish students are stepping up to the battle with childhood cancer.
Nine schools recently kicked off the “Dunk Your Kicks” campaign, a community fundraising effort through The Max Cure Foundation that supports families with a child diagnosed with cancer that are in need of financial support. For every pair of “kicks,” or sneakers, the schools collect, The Max Cure Foundation website says they will donate one dollar to various pediatric cancer causes they support.
The Max Cure Foundation has adopted three local families battling pediatric cancer, including a Bossier Parish family. Of the schools participating, Benton and Princeton elementary schools have personal reasons to throw in their kicks.
Carson Braun, a third grader at Benton, and Mia Troquille, a fifth grader at Princeton, are both cancer survivors.
Braun, 9, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a brain tumor in the lower portion of the brain, just before his first birthday.
Ginger Braun, Carson’s mother and a Benton Elementary teacher, said there weren’t any real signs of cancer, but his diagnosis was sort of a relief.
“It gave us answers and St. Jude gave us hope,” she said.
The Braun family spent a lot of Carson’s childhood at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Though medical costs and housing were covered during that time, Ginger said the financial responsibilities back home did not end.
That’s when their communities back home stepped in and began raising money to help the Braun’s get through financially. Ginger said their goal now is to keep the hope alive for other children at St. Jude.
According to the St. Jude website, the daily operating cost for St. Jude is $1.8 million and is primarily covered by public contributions. Last year, Ginger said her support team raised more than $10,000 for the hospital’s half marathon.
“They gave us his life back and we feel the need to give something back to them,” she said.
The money from local fundraisers are going to help children like three-year-old Hannah Shephard of Ringgold, who was diagnosed at the end of August with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). According to the National Cancer Institute, ALL affects the blood and bone marrow and is the most common type of childhood cancer.
Amanda Smith, Hannah’s aunt, said the only symptoms Hannah showed were fever and fatigue. For an energetic and bubbly child like Hannah, Smith said the family knew something had to be wrong.
“She never got sick. She is such a happy and active little girl,” Smith said. “She has always been sassy and she’s not going to let this get her down.”
Two days after her diagnosis, Hannah was taken by ambulance to St. Jude and has received several chemotherapy treatments since her arrival.
Smith said Hannah’s family had to put their lives and jobs on hold for a while, just like the Braun’s did. She, too, said the outpour of support through fundraising efforts has been overwhelming for the Shephard family.
“People are so willing to give without even knowing us,” Smith said. “It’s impossible to thank everyone individually because there are donations from people we don’t even know.”
Smith said they are keeping the hope alive for Hannah through a Facebook page that is regularly updated on her St. Jude journey. Though it may seem hard, Ginger said its best for the family to look past the bad days and focus on the positives in Hannah’s life.
“Through it all, [Carson] has touched so many lives that he may not have if it wasn’t for cancer,” Ginger said. “Hannah will be the same way. It will be amazing to see the lives that she touches. There will be something good come from this.”
Jeannie Fuller, Carson’s grandmother, encouraged the Shephard family to keep their faith in God’s plan and take each day, good or bad, as it comes.
“Little Hannah is God’s gift to them. Every day they get to spend with her is a gift,” she said. “There is an abundance of good people that give from the bottom of their hearts. We can’t cure Hannah, but we can show them our love and support.”
Schools participating in “Dunk Your Kicks” include Rusheon Middle School, Princeton Elementary, Platt Elementary, Haughton Middle School, W.T. Lewis Elementary, Stockwell Elementary, Benton Elementary, Meadowview Elementary and Bellaire Elementary.
For more information on The Max Cure Foundation, visit www.maxcurefoundation.org