By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times
The number 4,114 is one you might not recognize the significance of, but one that is very important to Cullman County and some of its young residents and their families.
This map shows every Alabama county and the number of days children from that county were inpatients or outpatients at Children’s Hospital in 2012.
“Cullman County children spent a combined total of 4,114 days; that number of days would equal over 11 years of time,” says Key Club Advisor, Bob Palys. “We are hoping to raise $4,114 for Children’s Hospital. That’s $1 for every day a child from Cullman County has been a patient in Birmingham.”
The plan is to sponsor a “Walk For Children’s Hospital Day” Saturday, Nov. 16. “We are inviting every Cullman County/Cullman City high school to join in this project. We are asking every SGA, FCCLA, National Honor Society, Youth For Christ, Leo Club, Key Club, FBLA, Beta Club, and other organizations to join this event,” urged Palys, who went on to note that this project is not a Holly Pond Project or a Key Club Project, but a Cullman County-Wide Young Adult Project for Children’s Hospital. “All proceeds will be given to Children’s Hospital of Alabama on behalf of Cullman County’s caring young adults. No one is receiving a penny in pay for this effort,” said Palys.
One of the many Cullman County youngsters who spent time in Birmingham at Children’s Hospital is Jackson Ray, a fifth-grader at East Elementary. Jackson, 11, was diagnosed with leukemia on June 12. At that time he spent 15 days in the hospital and has been in and out since then for a total of 40 days this year. “He’s been a real trooper,” said his grandmother, Peggy Ray. “He is a very strong little boy,” agreed Jackson’s dad, Brannon Ray.
“We are blessed to have this kind of care so close to home,” said Jackson’s mom, Michelle Ray. “We received a diagnosis while we were still in the ER, and they had a treatment plan developed by the next day. The staff at Children’s Hospital is amazing.”
According to Ray, who could not praise the staff at Children’s Hospital highly enough, Jackson and his parents and visitors have been treated just like family. “They are so courteous, always asking if we need anything or if we would like something to eat or drink.”
“I have been amazed at the way they have given us every courtesy,” said Michelle. “And at the professional way in which they present everything to us and include us in every decision they make.”
Michelle, who is also a nurse, was very impressed with the fact that they were given a diagnosis while still in the Emergency Room the first day at Children’s Hospital. “We didn’t have to wait to find out what was wrong,” she said. “It’s not what we expected; we had no idea that it was anything like leukemia.”
The following day, the family met with the team of doctors and nurses who would be taking care of Jackson. “They already had a treatment plan to show us,” said Michelle. “I am just amazed and thankful that we have such a wonderful hospital so close to our home in Cullman County.”
“This hospital is a blessing from God,” she said.
Here are the details: Nov. 16, rain, shine or even snow, there will be a one-mile walk and a two-mile run at the Wallace State Community College track. There will be a minimum $10 donation to enter either event or $15 to enter both. “Every participant who registers before Nov. 8 will be guaranteed an event T-shirt,” Palys explained. “The back of the shirts will contain our sponsors and every group that registers before Nov. 8. (For example, the shirt could say: Hanceville Leo Club, or West Point SGA, Cullman FBLA, etc.)
According to Palys, the walk will not have any awards. However the run will have medals awarded to the fastest male and female by grade, and trophies awarded to the fastest overall male and female; the run awards will be donated and incur no cost to the project.
Registration for the event will begin at 8:30 a.m. with the walk starting at 9:30 a.m. and the run shortly after the walk concludes.
“We are hoping to have great participation with at least 500 entrants,” said Palys. “This should create excellent publicity for our young adults. Too often this generation is judged unfairly as non-caring with no direction; this is not true. I have worked with young adults for 40 years and know their commitment and dedication to deserving causes,” said Palys, who has been involved with Children’s Hospital for 30 years.
Entrants will receive a packet containing a registration form, map, T-shirt design, and poster.
For more information, contact Bob Palys at 256-352-2793