BY: Rachel Fasig
The 4th Annual 2014 Suwanee American Craft Beer Fest is raising funds and awareness for Kingdom Kids, a nonprofit that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses in Gwinnett and Forsyth Counties.
Built on the mission of “improving the quality life for children facing challenging circumstances,” Kingdom Kids was co-founded by Justin Hutchinson and Kevin Ford, each of whom have full-time jobs, families and a busy schedule – so never did they imagine the success and impact that Kingdom Kids would have on the community of Suwanee and surrounding areas.
Kingdom Kids is funded solely by donors, from events and from the annual Lily’s Run – a memorial run for Lily Anderson, that raises money in order to grant wishes for other children with rare diseases.
Kingdom Kids has granted hundreds of wishes for families in our community like the Halls. Jon and Jena Hall had the opportunity to take their children: Anna (7), Claire (4) and Andrew (18 months) to Disney World, thanks to the generous support of Kingdom Kids.
Here is their story:
BY: Jena Hall
Andrew began his cancer journey on July 1st, 2013, when he was brought to the ER due to loss of mobility in his legs. A few hours later, he had a room on the Aflac Cancer floor at Scottish Rite. A tumor was found in his back growing around and into his spine causing the loss of movement in his legs. He was rushed to the operating room for surgery to relieve pressure off of his spine to prevent paralysis.
After surgery and many scans, Andrew was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma.
Andrew underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy. After treatment, he had several scans to determine any cancer activity remaining in his body. Our specific prayer was to have clear scans, but God had a different plan for Andrew. God needs Andrew to shine His light a little longer around the childhood cancer world! His tumor still has Neuroblastoma activity, and he will have surgery mid-February to remove most of his tumor. Our hopes are that the remaining tumor will respond to surgery and no more chemotherapy will be needed in the future. Thankfully, through our faith, we have the strength to live day-to-day, moment-by-moment, appreciating Andrew and not worrying too much about the next step.
Throughout his journey, Andrew continues to have a constant smile on his face, loves to wave and finds joy in every situation! He even regained function in his legs! Andrew is crawling again, cruising, and working with Physical Therapists on walking. In fact, just one week before he turned 18 months old, he took 7 steps! What an accomplishment for our sweet little guy!
Andrew’s family has strong faith and great trust that God loves him, and that His hands are wrapped around Andrew. Andrew’s dad, mom and two sisters can live each day with an indescribable peace that God is in control. At home, prayers, hope, happiness and laughter continue on a daily basis! God has an amazing story for Andrew’s life… a story that has and will continue to bring glory.
In October 2013, just three months into Andrew’s battle, he was honored with a wish through Kingdom Kids as a part of Lily’s Run 2013. Our question was: how do we ask our one-year-old about his wish? I decided to talk with other families who have been in our shoes, and spoke specifically to Lily’s mom about starting a fund for Andrew’s future needs as his wish. I loved her answer…it was “No, Don’t wait!” Instead she strongly encouraged our family to take a trip and make as many family memories as possible and take many pictures. That was the beginning of our plan for Kingdom Kids to send us to Disney World!
On February 1st, our family loaded up for Disney, not having to worry about any of the trip details. A trip granted to get our minds off childhood cancer, time away from doctor phone calls and appointments, and away from hospitals. What a wish come true for our family! All of our accommodations and park passes were taken care of by Kingdom Kids. They had taken the stress away from planning a trip that could otherwise be stressful, especially for a family in our circumstances.
For five days, our family thought nothing about cancer and only about what parks to visit, rides to ride, and fun places to eat! Unfortunately, our trip did not grant us time away from hospitals. Within the first 30 minutes in our hotel room, little Andrew’s fingers were closed in the balcony door, hinge-side, and he broke his pointer finger. But, in true Andrew fashion, he did not skip a beat! He did not let a hurt finger and splint hold back his smiles and waves as he rode nearly every ride that his two big sisters wanted to ride! The memories made were priceless. We will forever be grateful to Kingdom Kids for the smiles on Andrew’s face that will never be forgotten!
Now we are home preparing for the next big challenge…surgery. It will be a multi-hour procedure with a week-long recovery period in the hospital. Our daily activities now consist of organizing care for our girls while Jon and I plan to alternate days in the hospital with Andrew.
Thankfully, we have many family members in the Atlanta area that are more than willing to help! Because of our family, our amazing friends, and families from school, church, and our small group, we have peace in our hearts that our family will be well fed and that our sweet girls will be taken care of with love!
For more information about Kingdom Kids and to help a family going through a difficult time, please visit supportkingdomkids.com and join us at suwaneebeerfest.com where a portion of the ticket proceeds go directly to grant wishes.