Archive for Thursday, May 17, 2007

Father’s love motivates crusade

May 17, 2007

What seems like only a few years has turned into 11 since I first noticed a petite little girl at the American Cancer Society Relay For Life event in Baldwin. She caught my eye not only because of her sweet face, but because her baldness announced at this particular event she was a cancer survivor.

That was the first Relay For Life for Madeline Pyle who attended the event to walk as a survivor, and to support her aunt Rose House who was also sporting a very baldhead and going through cancer treatment at the time.

Two teams from Eudora got their first taste of the Relay at Baldwin City that year, attending to support Rose through her treatment as well as to support the American Cancer Society. Many of us were not aware that Madeline who was 5-1/2 at the time had also been diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia until we noticed her bobbing in and out of the crowd. What a mind-numbing sight to see such a small child walking the track knowing at least something of what she had been through and would continue to experience in her treatment.

The following eight years Madeline attended the Eudora Relay For Life and stood with her father Ed Pyle on the stage at that event one year as he told the story of her diagnosis and treatment which included 2-1/2 years of chemotherapy, five hospitalizations, and transfusions from her father. She missed kindergarten and was home-schooled the first year of her diagnosis. She and her dad danced for us that night and she is still dancing 11 years later.

Madeline is now 17 years old; a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Johnson County and has helped raise thousands of dollars for research to find a cure for childhood cancer. She is one of five of our very special "Relay kids" who attended our Relays here in Eudora and are still survivors.

Madeline's father and Charlie Huber compose the disc jockey team of "Wired for Sound." They donated their time and talent for many years to the Eudora Relay For Life. As teams walked through the night and early morning hours of the Relay, Ed cheered them on with music, fun and games and his own particular brand of deejaying. As walkers finished the 12-hour Relay and the sun was coming up, Ed's voice boomed over the public address system to congratulate all involved for their efforts and to give a final total of funds raised.

When the Relay came to an end in Eudora, Madeline and Ed continued to raise funds for childhood cancer. This year finds Ed involved in a June event to benefit the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. Named volunteer of the year in 1998, Ed continues to have "this passion to continue to help others beat this disease."

The "Man and Woman of the Year" event will honor those like Ed who continue to be involved as volunteers. As he says, "the money we raise today helps find a cure for tomorrow just as the money raised 20 years ago helped find a cure for Madeline 11 years ago and for all others at the time."

As Ed and I shared memories of working together on the Eudora Relay For Life, this column seemed a way to follow up on Madeline and to make all of those who read this aware that the need to support cancer research is still so necessary.

With one in three diagnosed, all of us have or know someone who is touched with this disease. The good news is that cancer is no longer a death sentence with many like Madeline and our other kids who are not only surviving, but leading fulfilling lives. That is because all of us have been generous in our giving to such organizations as the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society and the American Cancer Society. While many are being cured, the need for continued research continues.

Appealing to all who supported the cause through the Eudora Relay in the past, I am now encouraging you to make a contribution to the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. Donations may be sent by June 1 to: Ed Pyle, 9006 Pine St., Lenexa 66220 to support his efforts as a volunteer and to help ensure there will be more years for children like Madeline. Remember, there is no such thing as a little contribution -- all are welcome.

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