Suffolk cares

Published 9:52 pm Monday, November 28, 2016

I appreciate how the people of Suffolk care for and support one another, especially in times of medical crises.

Thanks to Facebook, GoFundMe and good ol’ word of mouth, it’s easy to bring attention to various community needs and watch them spread like wildfire.

There are many times during interviews I hear tragic tales of unexpected medical conditions. I almost feel helpless for the individuals and the circumstances they have to face. But, almost always, people say faith and community support has sustained them during their trials.

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One of my favorite stories to date was about a toddler named Gideon Thompson.

Prior to Thompson’s birth, his parents had been reading the biblical story of Gideon. Inspired by the story, they decided to name their son after him. Little did they know, their son would face odds seemingly as insurmountable as the biblical Gideon.

At the tender age of 1, Thompson was diagnosed with stage IV brain cancer.

For those unfamiliar with the biblical story, Gideon faced an army of 135,000 Midianites with only 300 men on his side and miraculously won the battle.

By the grace of God, Gideon Thompson was also able to beat the odds, and to date he has been cancer-free for about two years.

The kicker is the extra mile Thompson took to show his appreciation.

He decided to host a lemonade stand fundraiser to benefit the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters unit where he was treated.

It’s stories like these that warm my heart.

There are several faces in the community who have been supported for medical needs: Beth Prever, the Rev. Greg Ryan, Paula Hicks and tons of others.

Prever, senior vice president of marketing and public relations at the Harbour View TowneBank location, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS.

However, prior to her diagnosis, Prever and TowneBank helped raise nearly $800,000 for ALS research through the JT Walk, one of the largest ALS fundraisers in the nation, over the last eight years.

The community returned the favor and raised more than $80,000 for her “brigade” in this year’s JT Walk.

Ryan was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia while on vacation in Hawaii this summer. Ryan’s airlift from Hawaii to the Duke University hospital in North Carolina totaled more than $95,000, which his insurance didn’t cover.

So, his family, the community and his church stepped up and hosted a variety of fundraisers to help with the cost.

Hicks was diagnosed with breast cancer about two months ago. However, her insurance policy at the time only covered about 10 percent of the medical costs.

She didn’t realize this until she was faced with several thousands of dollars in medical bills with no feasible way to pay for them.

Once again, the community stepped up and hosted a fundraiser to benefit her.

The common theme here is selflessness. I appreciate Suffolk’s willingness to rise to the call to help neighbors and strangers.