Wednesday, August 12, 2009

James' Journey

A few years ago, I had a special visitor come to my house. James was picking up a laptop from Heroes for Children through the Laptops for Love program. He and his brothers excitedly came to my house (which was closer for them to travel then going to the hospital to pick up the laptop) and get the computer before they were off to Hawaii for his Make-a-Wish trip. They even ran all around my backyard for more than twenty minutes with my golden retriever, Brandy, leaving her happy and exhausted when they left! I really enjoyed meeting James and his family. Little did I know then that one day, James' mother would begin working for Heroes for Children as our Development Assistant. WinterFawn started working with our organization this week and we couldn't be happier to have her. Below are her words about James' Journey to lead her to the Heroes for Children office. Welcome, WinterFawn!

My name is WinterFawn Stone and I am very proud to say that I am the newest member of HFC! And before you ask, NO, my parents were not hippies and YES, I am Native American (those are the two most frequently asked questions when someone hears my name). I was born in Phoenix, Arizona and after my parents divorced when I was 6, I moved to Texas with my father and have been here ever since.

I have 4 beautiful boys: Breece (age 15), James Anthony (would have been 11), Matthew (age 8) and Lucas (age 3). I love kids and would have more if my body could handle it. Quite often you will find that we have a few kids over at our house because I love a house full of kids. And before you ask, YES, I am crazy. I am the way I am because of the influence of my very goofy father.

From left: James, Breece, Lucas, and Matthew

When I’m not at home playing with kids I’m out volunteering. I started volunteering when I was 15; I was a candy striper for the hospital in McKinney. I have also volunteered at the Suicide Crisis Center and The Samaritan Inn, Collin County’s only homeless shelter. Giving back to my community is important for me and this is something I hope my children will continue doing when they are adults.

In February of 2006 James was diagnosed with Burkett’s Lymphoma. For three months I attempted juggling my work while James was in the hospital but finally had to walk away from my position. My husband, Paul, took on more hours at work; sometimes working 12 hours a day 6 days a week, but we still struggled financially. You just don’t think about all of the little expenses when a child has cancer and it’s even more difficult when you’re faced with these expenses with one less income. It wasn’t long before one of the social workers at Medical City told me about HFC. Within days we received a check that allowed us to pay essential bills like the electric and phone bill (so I could call home when at the hospital or call the doctor when we were at home) along with giving me much needed money for food when we were at the hospital as I was pregnant with Lucas at the time.

Baby Lucas with James in the hospital

James went through 2 transplants, his last being in February 2007 (just one year after diagnosis). In May, James Anthony tested positive for CMV (a very common virus that most of the population gets at one point in their life but is very easily fought off; unless you have a weak or no immune system like James had after his transplant). Despite all the treatments they gave, James went septic on Mother’s Day 2007 and earned his angel wings.

The family on Make-a-Wish trip

Shortly after James Anthony passed, I began working for The Samaritan Inn. This was the first time I had ever worked for a nonprofit agency and I absolutely loved the work environment. So, when I found out HFC had a position available, I jumped at the opportunity. Now I have the pleasure to work for the agency that helped us greatly during the most difficult time in our lives and I’m able to help other families whose child is currently battling cancer. To say I am super excited to be working at HFC is a tremendous understatement. I look forward to many, many, MANY years with this organization.

1 comment:

Danielle said...

Welcome to HFC Winterfawn!