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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Gift unites mom, 2 boys for holiday

By Amy Renee Leiker
The Wichita Eagle

Share the Season is an annual campaign that offers one-time aid to people affected by unforeseen hardships. The people are not identified to protect their privacy.

All she wants is to have her two boys with her for Christmas.

She’s a Wichita mom who is spending the holidays hunkered down in a Memphis, Tenn., hospital room while her younger son, 9 months old, recovers from a five-day dose of chemotherapy. Diagnosed with retinoblastoma – a rare eye cancer – five months after his birth, the baby and his mother fly or drive to St. Jude Hospital in Memphis about twice a month for cancer treatments.

“It’s changed everything," the woman said when asked about her son’s cancer. "Everything that we have to do for him and everything that we do for ourselves has to be put on hold.”

At last check, more than 90 percent of the tumors in her baby’s eyes were calcified by the cancer treatments. St. Jude pays airfare for the pair but can’t buy a ticket for this mother’s 7-year-old son so he can travel, too. With no money to repair her car after she was laid off last year, more than 500 miles nearly split the little family this Christmas.

"I have tried to fit these repairs into my budget, but no matter how I work it, these repairs are unattainable for me without help," the woman wrote on her Share the Season application.

A local auto shop completed repairs to the vehicle, the woman said, thanks to help she received from the Share the Season program. On Dec. 4, this mother drove both of her sons to Memphis, where they’ll all spend the upcoming holiday.

“It means everything. It’s just been my (older) son and I for so long,” she said. “If he wouldn’t be here (in Memphis), it would be devastating to both of us.”

Send contributions to Share the Season at the Wichita Community Foundation, 301 N. Main, Suite 100, Wichita, KS 67202.

Donations also can be made through PayPal online at www.wichitacf.org. Donors will be listed in The Eagle; please note if you prefer to remain anonymous. For more information, call 316-264-4880.

To apply for help: Download an application at www.sharetheseason.org, or pick one up at the Salvation Army, 350 N. Market, Wichita. For more information, call 316-263-2769.

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