September 2007 Column Winner

Couldn't Help But Notice
By Barb Walter, The Hennessey Clipper

Our community couldn't save Gavin.
We don't know why.
We have been able to save other children and or now, that's going to have to comfort us. We can't imagine how we can help console his family.
I didn't know Gavin and I barely knew his parents when The Clipper started covering Gavin's cancer problems a few months ago. But I grew to know him and his family through the words of his mother when she graciously agreed to talk with us - almost weekly at times - about Gavin's condition.
And trust me, you don't just pound out a story on the keyboard about a kid who has cancer. A fast-growing cancer. And the more you know about the child and about the disease, the more difficult it is to write the stories.
I used to pray that his mom, Debbie, wouldn't answer her cell phone so I didn't have to go through my own personal trauma of writing the story. I realize now that some of that was the guilt of being a cancer survivor myself.
Why am I alive and yet a young boy is dead?
I don't know the answer but I know that Gavin's illness helped bring this community closer together, caused each of us to make new acquaintances, to work and pray together for one cause and to be grateful that we have healthy children and grandchildren.
Our community had a common goal.
It was Gavin.
It was up to me to keep you updated about his health and we joked about making him a star. Everyone knew the kid by his picture in the paper and we all knew him by his first name. But I'm not sure that everyone knew that the kid was fighting hard to stay alive.
In the early stages, Gavin was given wide berths in restaurants so we didn't share our germs. Everyone knew the kid with his head shaved - with or without his mask - was Gavin. It was a household name.
Let's keep it that way. Let's give blood at the next drive knowing it will go to help someone like Gavin. Let's sign up to be an organ donor so we can help someone like Gavin. It's painful but you can give bone marrow, too.
Notice I said you.
Unfortunately they won't take my blood because of my breast cancer history. Ditto on my organs if I die in a car crash and I can't give bone marrow for obvious reasons.
Let's also remember those children and others we have helped in the past few years: Lyndsey Brown, Mandy Smith, Shaelyn Lara, Andy Ritz, Roger Parker, Rae Wymore, Harv Bohnstedt ... and more.
Let's keep Gavin and his family at the top of our remembrance list this week by making a commitment to make someone's life better by what we do.
I may not be able to give blood or bone marrow and they don't want my body but they will cash my check.
Think about what you can do to help save someone like Gavin.