Many within the community have been showing support and collecting funds for Miami Trace Elementary student Gary Lewis and his family. Gary is an 8-year-old second grader who was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia on Tuesday, Jan. 12.
Gary’s mother, Stacey Lewis, is the fiscal officer at Fayette County Public Health (FCPH) and his grandmother, Karen Lowe, was employed by FCPH for 20 years — retiring as the deputy health commissioner.
According to www.cancer.gov/, T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia is “an aggressive (fast-growing) type of leukemia (blood cancer) in which too many T-cell lymphoblasts (immature white blood cells) are found in the bone marrow and blood.”
Signs of childhood ALL include fever, easy bruising or bleeding, petechiae (flat, pinpoint, dark-red spots under the skin caused by bleeding), weakness or feeling tired or looking pale, bone or joint pain, shortness of breath, pain or feeling of fullness below the ribs, loss of appetite, painless lumps in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin (which are swollen lymph nodes).
According to the website, “treatment is given to kill leukemia cells that have spread or may spread to the brain, spinal cord, or testicles.” Treatment for childhood ALL has four types of standard treatments being chemotherapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy with stem cell transplant, and targeted therapy.
For more information, visit www.cancer.gov/types/leukemia/patient/child-all-treatment-pdq.
On Wednesday, various businesses and organizations around the community were seen wearing orange for #GaryStrong — orange ribbons are used to promote Leukemia awareness.
Also in support of Gary, various organizations and businesses have sported red clothing as Gary loves the Cincinnati Reds.
Red hearts are popping up for sale at different locations to support him.
On Saturday, Jan. 23 at 4 p.m., one of Gary’s brothers and some friends organized a truck/car meet in the parking lot of the Washington Center where Gordmans used to be located (the strip mall in Washington Court House that houses El Dorado, Ohio Thrift, etc. located off Columbus Avenue between Glenn Avenue and South Elm Street).
His brother explained via social media, “Due to (Gary’s) chemo treatments, he can’t get out of the car and associate. But I think it would be nice to show him how many people are supporting him. So I want to get as many people there as possible for him to cruise through and see the support he has in person.”
The plan is for Gary to arrive with police escort at 4:30 p.m.
To help Gary’s family with the medical costs, various forms of raising funds have arisen within the community.
Quali-Tee Design Sportswear is selling a t-shirt for $12-17 (depending on size) with the proceeds going to Gary’s family. Those who wish to donate but not buy a shirt can also do so through a web page the business set up. The shirt and/or donation can be bought/made at www.shop.qualiteedesign.com/gary_strong/shop/home. Orders placed by Sunday, Jan. 24 will be available on Jan. 29. All other orders will be available Feb. 9.
Donatos Pizza (Washington C.H.) will be donating a percentage of its sales made on Tuesday, Jan. 26. No coupon, flier or mention is necessary — all sales will count.
American Legion Post 25 is hosting a Drive-Thru Chicken and Noodle Benefit with the help of volunteers and donors on Sunday, Jan. 31. The benefit will last from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the American Legion, 1240 U.S. Route 22 in Washington Court House. The menu includes chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, green beans, a dinner roll and dessert for $6.
A meal train has been organized to assist the family with meals during this time. The web page, www.mealtrain.com/qmv0z5, includes slots for people to sign up for a day and food they will be donating. It is requested that those who sign up drop the food off to Fayette County Public Health, 317 S. Fayette St. in Washington C.H., between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. as the family is unsure what days Gary will be receiving chemo.
A GoFundMe, called “Gary Lewis Leukemia Fund,” found at www.gofund.me/8b0a29f9, has been set up by Fayette County Public Health Deputy Health Commissioner Leigh Cannon. As of Friday at 1 p.m., $12,850 has been raised out of the $15,000 goal. The fund explains, “Sweet Gary is one of 6 kids. Their family needs our support for medical deductibles, hospital visits, and transportation needs. Thank you for your generosity, support, love and prayers.”
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.