If February comes, can Ruston’s St. Jude Radiothon be far behind?
Well, no, and actually this year it’s coming a little earlier in the week. The 2022 radiothon is scheduled from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 9-10, on station Z107.5. For the past several years, the event has been held on Thursday and Friday.
During that time, online donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital can be made by accessing a link on the radio station’s home page or by calling 1-800-787-5288. People who wish to donate by text can do so by texting “Ruston” to 626262. In related side events, in-person donations will be taken at both the local Walmart Supercenter and Super 1 Foods.
Nancy Darland, radiothon chair of the co-sponsoring service group Epsilon Sigma Alpha, said, “We want to be sure that area residents know the event is happening a little earlier than usual so that no one misses out on this opportunity to help the St. Jude kids.”
Last year the event raised more than $76,000 for the Memphis, Tennessee, hospital that focuses on catastrophic childhood diseases.
Many St. Jude children are often on area residents’ minds, and another patient with Ruston ties was admitted there in November – 8-year-old Noah Klink, whose family lives in Swartz. His uncle is Thomas Patton, of Choudrant, one of five brothers who own Patton’s Western Wear at 814 N. Trenton St. in Ruston.
Patton – along with many other family members and friends – is dedicating himself to helping Noah and his parents, Michael Ann and Kody, in their time of need. Patton’s Western Wear is now carrying T-shirts whose sales are dedicated to helping the Klinks while both parents take off work to stay with Noah at St. Jude while he undergoes treatment for a rare form of liver cancer.
Michael Ann is a phlebotomist in the newborn nursery at St. Francis Hospital in Monroe; Kody is an auto body technician at Bolding Auto Body in Bastrop.
In addition to helping raise money for the family, Patton also encourages area residents to support the hospital itself by donating to the radiothon.
“You can never underestimate the need or impact of the donation that you make until you experience it first hand,” Patton said. The effect is exponentially large, he explained.
Noah’s journey to St. Jude began when he awakened that fateful November day with vomiting, diarrhea and a large bulge in the stomach area. He and his family arrived at the St. Francis emergency room at 5 a.m., they left the hospital at 2 p.m., and by 7:30 or 8 p.m. they were at St. Jude.
At St. Francis, the initial thought had been perhaps a ruptured appendix or hernia, but a CT scan determined it was something else.
Michael Ann recounts that the St. Francis doctor said, “I have been on the phone with St. Jude. Noah has a large mass in his abdomen, and he needs to be at St. Jude, and I’m going to get him there.”
She says, “From then on, it’s been just one big blur.” The sequence of events “took our breath away.”
A compressed look at the days since then: Noah has been diagnosed with undifferentiated embryonal sarcoma of the liver (UESL), has had two rounds of chemotherapy with four left to go, and on Jan. 28 underwent surgery that removed the tumor, his gallbladder, about 60% of his liver, and two lymph nodes. The resulting pathology report will help doctors decide if radiation is necessary.
Thankfully, an update to Noah Klink’s “Blue” Cancer Journey Facebook page showed that he was progressing well following the surgery and Jan. 31 was moved out of ICU into a regular room. Post-op photos of “Blue” (Noah’s nickname because of his large blue eyes) on Jan. 30 show him playing with toys with his father.
Throughout the ordeal, Michael Ann has sung praises of St. Jude. “These people know what they’re doing,” she said. “I will forever be a donor to St. Jude. Until you’re sitting where we’re sitting, you can’t grasp the importance of the funds you are giving. Through this, we are able to remain a family. People may say, ‘I don’t have anything to give.’ But you can give $5. If you walked these halls it would completely change your perspective on it.”
Patton’s perspective adds to that picture: “It’s been phenomenal … the amount of love and care they’ve received since they got there … It’s just the hand of God taking care of them … God has blessed them more than we could ever imagine.”