The city of Monroe has really rallied about two children who are both suffering through the same form of bone cancer. There are bumper stickers, T-shirts and yard signs throughout the city, all in support of eight-year-old Madison Smallwood and 15-year-old Dominic Watkins. The Monroe Hornets Fighting Childhood Cancer has the entire city united.
On Sunday, more than 200 people of all ages participated in a 5K run and a 1 mile fun run at Monroe High School. About $3,400 was raised from the event at the high school, said co-organizer Angie Fierman. She said all of the event’s expenses were covered by local sponsors and the proceeds would be split between the two families to cover their expenses. In addition, more than 800 T-shirts supporting the two students has also raised more than $8,000, she said.
Seth Darrell, the Monroe cross country coach, said Watkins was a member of the team last year. He said the community has already hosted a half-dozen fundraisers and are planning more, including an upcoming golf benefit.
“It’s awesome the way the community has come out to support them and are continuing to do more,” he said. “It’s been non-stop for the fundraisers.”
Darrell said the course that was used for the 5K run is the same practice course used by the high school cross country team and goes around the perimeter of the school campus.
One of the runners, Justin Rossi of Monroe, said, “I think it’s great that more than 200 people came out. It’s for a good cause and it was a good course.”
Although Rossi has been running, he said the course was hard.
“It’s amazing, it’s gone from just finding out about it in July to two months later, the whole community is like a big family,” one supporter Sandy Montgomery said. “It’s just amazing what they’re doing for these kids. There has been fund raiser after fund raiser and money raised because people care and they want to.”
Lori Smallwood said her daughter was diagnosed with osteosarcoma over the summer when a tumor was discovered on her femur over her right knee and it has metastasized to her lungs. She will have surgery in a couple weeks to take out the tumor and replace the bone with a metal piece. The prognosis?
“I don’t ask,” Smallwood said. “They say it’s treatable and that things look good but I don’t ask for a percentages or anything like that. I still firmly believe a year from now she’ll still be here and will be in remission so we do one day at a time.”
Smallwood, her husband Ryan and their five-year-old son Landon have hardly been home, maybe seven to 10 days since Madison started chemotherapy treatments at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Smallwood said she is grateful they have medical insurance, but the fund raisers have really helped with the other expenses. She said it’s expensive having to eat at the hospital all the time and drive 60 miles round trip every day.
The money isn’t the biggest part of the community effort, she said raising awareness about childhood cancer is crucial. She said there is little spent on research into childhood cancer and about one in every 285 kids will contract the deadly diseases.
“The funding is not there only four percent of government funding for research goes into childhood cancer,” she said. “Which is really sad to think, because these kids are our future and they deserve more than four percent.”
Smallwood was going to try to leave to go the run/walk at the high school, but said she wasn’t sure she would make it.
“The community really has stepped up, they’ve been an amazing support group for us,” she said.