I am the father of five wonderful, beautiful children. About 11 years ago, my middle daughter Madeline was experiencing inexplicable fevers and joint pain. After six weeks of painful and sleepless nights, we learned our baby girl had cancer.
"No, not my 'Puddins,'" I thought.
Driving home from Children's Mercy Hospital that day, my wife, Mary, pictured our precious baby in a casket. We had prematurely decided that if it was bone cancer we would not selfishly fight it, but simply let God take her home. After her bone marrow biopsy the next day, we learned it was leukemia. The doctors said it was treatable. They gave us great reason to hope and to fight.
The next 2-1/2 years were filled with a treatment regime that included needles sticks in her legs, hands and spinal column. There was swallowing pills mixed in yogurt, hospital stays, clinic visits, making new "chemo friends" and sharing our story. In fact, during our very first hospital stay, the nurses asked our then 5-year-old Madeline to talk with a little guy. He needed the kind of encouragement that only a comrade in arms could provide. She transitioned from that to talking with me at various cancer-related fund-raisers. I am still amazed at her intestinal fortitude in front of hundreds of people talking about something so personally scare and yet so real in her 16-year-old world.
My "Puddins" is here today because of the advances in the fight against cancer. Generous people from all walks of life saw the need to support organizations like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
I am running for the Man and Woman of the Year for the Society. It is my hope that today you will be moved to help. My goal is a lofty one -- $50,000 in just eight short weeks. I'm aiming for the stars. If I'm success, the Society will name a research grant in Madeline's name. I hope to surprise Madeline with this when the campaign is over.
Cancer patients have uncommon valor. They are brave, tenacious fighters who possess a strong will to live. Any amount will be appreciated. And yes, Madeline is my hero. The theme of this campaign, fittingly enough, is "Superhero." Will you help me be a superhero to my Madeline and all the little Madeline's out there?
Thank you and God bless you.
Eudora High School graduate
Editor's note: For more information or to see a video about Madeline's story, visit www.klwn.com. Donations can be made online at this Web site or mailed to: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, c/o Ed Pyle, 9006 Pine St., Lenexa 66220. Deadline is June 1.