Last year the Walker family dealt with a major loss. This year they are turning that experience into a benefit for the community.
Walker Johns family has established a foundation in Walker’s name to benefit local children battling cancer … the Walker Johns Childhood Cancer Foundation.
Benefits from the foundation will help children ages from birth to 18 years. They currently are readying for the second annual Run/Walk/Ride with Walker benefit on Saturday. Last year the money went to the family to help cover medical bills while Walker was in the hospital.
“This is the first time I have been involved with the preparation and it takes a lot of work. These women and men have been amazing in their efforts to accomplish this. It is very soon to partake in this endeavor for me personally, but I cannot stand by and watch people work so hard for a cause that I personally take to heart,” said Kelly Johns, Walker’s mom.
The children they are trying to help each has their own story. Kelly is developing a website to inform the local families of the resources and support that is available in the area. The website will be under the foundation’s name and she hopes to reach children and young teens battling the life-changing illness.
“Also, to assist the parents in ways to cope and what to expect during their treatment and fight. Knowing the language and terminology of the ‘cancer world’ is also crucial in communicating with these families. The severity of one lab may depend on inpatient or outpatient hospitalizations, whereas other kids unaffected by cancer are worried about what they are going to wear, and who won the ball game,” said Johns.
“Cancer for children means having to grow up and endure an immense amount of pain and suffering both physically and emotionally. I apologize for the lack of sugar-coating because it does not apply here.”
Even a young person without hope can have courage and dare to be different, to dream and to change, and perhaps to teach and be an inspiration to others through their example.
The four children The Walker Johns Childhood Cancer Foundation will help this year are Alexis Henson, Tyler Harris, Tyler Bonhenkamp and Robinesha Jackson.
Alexis Henson is 10 years old and has Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. According to the American Cancer Society website, Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) typically affects older children or teenagers and occurs more often in large muscles of the trunk, arms, and legs. ARMS cells look like the normal muscle cells seen in a 10-week-old fetus. ARMS tends to grow faster than ERMS and usually requires more intensive treatment.
Tyler Harris is 11 years old and has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (relapse from original diagnosis in 2008). According to the American Cancer Society website Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, is a cancer that starts from white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow (the soft inner part of the bones, where new blood cells are made).
Tyler Bonhenkamp is 15 years old has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (Monosomy 7). His is also Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia but it has a chromosome called Monosomy 7, which has a presence of only one chromosome (instead of the typical two in humans).
Robinesha Jackson is 18 years old and has Signet cell Adenocarcinoma. “Adeno-” is a prefix that means “gland -A carcinoma is a malignant tumor that starts in epithelial tissue. Put the two words together and you get “adenocarcinoma,” which means a malignant tumor in epithelial tissue, specifically in a gland. The term “signet ring cell” describes the appearance of the cancer.
Johns said treatment continues for all of these kids and they are facing it with courage and determination. In this situation you are given no choice other than to do “Whatever it takes”.
A book has been written by Kerrie Boyer and illustrated by Kory Kleppe that depicts Walker’s Journey and how Kerrie interpreted it through the community and her eyes. It is called a “A Knight’s Fight”, has been published and will be available at the event on Saturday.
Walker Johns was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on July 28, 2010. He was a Farmington R-7 student and began chemotherapy July 30. According to a family member and information available on a Facebook page, Walker’s mom, Kelly, noticed he was pale and didn’t want to go outside with his dad. The family spokesperson said when Kelly’s kids are sick they could run a marathon and you wouldn’t know they were sick. She wanted to be on the safe side and took him in for a check up and found out he had a form of leukemia.
In March, 2011 Walker had a bone marrow transplant as part of his treatment for ALL. A group of students, parents and teachers gathered the morning of his surgery to remember all those who are going through bone marrow transplants.
Walker had a special place in his heart for his sister Zoe who donated the bone marrow to her brother in an attempt to help him win his battle.
Walker lost his long 15 month battle on Nov. 3, 2011.
Walker’s ambition was to be a Farmington Knights football player. He was a loving and compassionate young man and enjoyed his special friends. He mostly enjoyed hanging out with his dad on the football field. He was raised around Farmington Knights football from daddy’s arms to becoming a waterboy.
He could tell you every player’s name, number and position as the plays were run. He also loved playing baseball and basketball.
Walker brought a community together. Many in the area came together to help raise money and awareness for Walker and his family. Now the family wants to pass some of that help along.