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Aubrey Strong

When a child struggles it is felt by an entire community.

Two-year-old Aubrey Matthews was diagnosed with brain cancer Nov. 26. While the tumor was removed days after the diagnosis, Aubrey now has to returned to the hospital for chemotherapy treatments for the next six months to a year.

Fran Whitchurch has organized a benefit to help raise funds for the little girl from Park Hills.

The fundraiser is set for 2-6 p.m.on Jan. 5 at the Fredericktown Nutrition Center. All proceeds will be given directly to the family in order to help with expenses whereever they are needed. 

It will be an all-you-can eat ham and beans dinner with fried potatoes, cornbread, drink and dessert for $7. There will also be a bake sale, silent auction, quilt raffle and more. 

There will be a few very special guests at the event. With the help from Heroes for Kids, heroes including Superman, Batman and a few Star Wars characters and a popular villain will be available to take photographs with for a small fee. 

Anyone wishing to donate a baked good or raffle item can contact Whitchurch at 573-783-6413 or at 573-225-4013

Whitchurch said Aubrey has to stay in the hospital for a couple weeks with each round of chemo and the whole process is taking a toll on the family.

“The other daughter is in school and misses her baby sister and really I’m sure doesn’t understand all that is going on,” Whitchurch said.

Samantha, Aubrey’s mother, has taken time off from her job at Ashbrook Manor in order to take care of her family. Aubrey’s father, Jon, has also taken time off work. The two have an older daughter as well, and Samantha is currently seven months pregnant. These circumstances have put the family in a very difficult financial situation.

Whitchurch said when she moved back to the area she met Shirley Bennett, Aubrey’s great grandmother, and the whole family accepted her into their lives when she did not have many connections.

Bennett took a part-time position at Wilson Funeral Home and quickly became much more than an employee. 

Whitchurch said she felt she had to do something and that Shirley would have done everything she could to help out Aubrey.

Whitchurch was not the only one to feel so strongly about helping, as other events and fundraisers have also been planned throughout the area.

A GoFundMe page called Aubrey Strong was created and has so far raised $1,655 of the targeted $10,000 goal.

Jeni Kinney, the woman who organized the GoFundMe page for Aubrey’s family, said, “Please, if you can’t help financially, say a prayer for the family and sweet Aubrey, and share in hopes someone can help them buy a meal or put a little gas in their car to get back and forth. Any little bit helps.”

An Aubrey Strong Facebook page has also been created where the family shares updates on Aubrey and what they are expecting in the future.

A separate fundraiser, a Benefit Bingo, will be this evening from 5-7 p.m. It will be at Ashbrook Manor, located at 500 Ashbrook Dr. in Farmington. Admission is $15 for two hours of Bingo. Aubrey Strong shirts will also be sold. All money raised will go directly to the Matthews family.

If you are unable to make it to the fundraising event but still want to help out, shirts are being sold on the Aubrey Strong Facebook page. Donations can also be made on the Aubrey Strong GoFundMe page.

Aubrey Matthews keeps her spirits up during one of her many hospital visits.

Aubrey Matthews keeps her spirits up during one of her many hospital visits.

Heroes for Kids will be at the fundraising event for Aubrey Matthews on Jan. 5 at the Fredericktown Nutrition Center. They will be bringing Superman, Batman and some of their friends to take pictures with the kids for a small fee, which will go to the fundraiser.

Heroes for Kids will be at the fundraising event for Aubrey Matthews on Jan. 5 at the Fredericktown Nutrition Center. They will be bringing Superman, Batman and some of their friends to take pictures with the kids for a small fee, which will go to the fundraiser.

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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