Fundraiser for United student battling cancer draws crowd to Armagh
The wintry weather didn't keep them away. A fundraiser held Sunday for a Robinson boy battling bone cancer drew more people than could fit into the Armagh Fire Hall.
Over 275 baskets were donated to the Michael “Chuck” Norris benefit basket raffle, according to Norris' aunt, Kristalee Tomalson of Clyde, who helped organize the event. She said so many baskets were donated that many were used as door prizes instead of for the event's auction.
She estimated that 400 people probably attended the benefit, though not all at once.
“The generosity was amazing,” said Tomalson, noting that baskets were donated by friends, family, businesses and people from the community. She said every sports team in the United School District, from the elementary to high school, also donated a basket.
“It will help them out so much with their bills,” Tomalson said of the boy's immediate family. “They are beyond grateful and thankful for everyone's generosity.”
“I'm so grateful and amazed at the support from our community,” Norris' mother, April Regan, said.
According to his aunt, Norris has good days and bad days, though he's getting positive results from his chemotherapy.
Regan said Norris had his most recent treatment Jan. 18, and his bloodwork came back with “excellent” levels, allowing him to attend Sunday's benefit. “He was so happy to be able to see his friends from school, coaches, teachers, and of course, all of his family,” she said.
The money raised at the event will be placed into an account that the family will be able to use during Norris' recovery. Regan's job as a teller at First National Bank in New Florence provides 12 weeks of family medical leave, four of which she's already used during doctor visits and chemo treatments.
Norris' surgery will be extensive, removing and reconstructing affected bones. He will have the elbow, upper arm, shoulder and shoulder socket of his right arm replaced with titanium. The surgery will be followed by 20 more weeks of chemotherapy.
His surgery is scheduled for the end of February at Children's Hospital. He is currently on the state-funded CHIPS program, which should cover the majority of his medical expenses, according to Regan.
On Sunday, the fire hall was decorated in yellow — the color designated for awareness of sarcoma, the type of cancer Norris is fighting — and camouflage, reflecting his love of hunting. The event was an unofficial birthday celebration for Norris; on March 1, when he turns 15, he'll be recovering from his procedure.
“We wanted to do something fun for him,” said Tomalson.
The United High School freshman has undergone weeks of chemotherapy since his December diagnosis of osteosarcoma, after X-rays showed a tumor in his upper right arm.
“All of us, the family, we are all grateful to those who helped, who donated, who were there to support us in our fight,” said Tomalson.
“I believe that everyone who is praying and donating and supporting Michael and our family are his angels,” said Regan.
Norris' own response to the outpouring of support could be seen on his face, said Tomalson. “He didn't even have to say anything — his smile was all the thanks people needed,” she said. “He enjoyed his day a lot.”
Donations will continue to be collected through a Go Fund Me site set up by Norris' aunt, Elizabeth Slawson, at http://www.gofundme.com/6fvvmo.
Gina DelFavero is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2915 or firstname.lastname@example.org.