Kids at Blank Children's Oncology Clinic got a special treat Monday. Des Moines native and Major League Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson stopped by, signed some baseballs and delivered something special.
For some parents, the best part of Hellickson's visit wasn't meeting a major league star. They got something else, compliments of a very brave boy.
Going to the doctor is becoming a little routine for Carson Cooper. He says, "I'm 9, almost 10, and I'm in 4th grade." When he was eight, Carson started having symptoms that landed him in the E.R. He says, "I found a thing under my chin when we were at the movies."
His mom Pam Cooper says, "Probably took 4 or 5 times to go back to the doctor to kind of figure out what it was. And, then one night he was covered in bruises from his knees down, so they sent us to the E.R.”
That was May of 2011 when doctors diagnosed Carson with Leukemia. Pam Cooper says, "Fear, shock, it just felt like all the air, oxygen just went out of the room. We didn't know what to do."
Carson spent 28 days at Blank Children's Hospital for treatment at first. Now, he makes monthly visits to the children's oncology clinic. His mom says, right away, Carson wanted to help others deal with a difficult diagnosis. Mrs. Cooper says, "We started noticing other families that were struggling, maybe with coming to the hospital, maybe one parent was there, one parent wasn't, how do they pay for meals when they're here."
The family started the organization Kids Living Brave. They make what they call brave baskets for families early in their treatment. Pam Cooper says, "Just a way to say, here's something to give you comfort when you get home and to keep you organized, and to make your treatment at home a little smoother."
Family friend and Tampa Bay Rays Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson delivered a basket to a two-year-old patient from the Coopers. The little boy is seven weeks into treatment, and the toy seemed to take his mind off being at the doctor. His mom commented, “This is so nice.”
Carson came up with the idea for the brave baskets. They include fun things like stuffed animals, toys and lots of practical items. Pam Cooper says, "One of the most important things, as a parent to me, is the calendar that kind of helps track the medicine, how your child is feeling, any symptoms because you're giving so many medications when you come home."
The baskets also include hand sanitizer, a thermometer, and pill organizer.
Carson says, “They’re baskets with stuff in them to help parents to feel better and help them through treatment.”
It’s something Carson knows all about as he helps others fight a brave battle with cancer.
Each brave baskets costs about $100 to put together. The Coopers will hold their first fundraiser this Saturday at Grand Slam USA in Urbandale. Jeremy Hellickson will be there for a pitching clinic. Tickets are $50 per kid and spots are limited.
You can get more information at www.kidslivingbrave.org.
Carson is in remission, but he still has another year and a half of treatment.