The Benner family of Mount Gilead is preparing for something special: a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World in Florida. Luke Benner, age 5 , his parents mom Kanda, dad Erin and his two brothers, Parker age 7 and Greyson age 3, will be leaving for a one-week stay at the resort.
On January 22, 2013, doctors diagnosed Luke with a form of leukemia. Prior to his diagnosis, he had few warning signs. Around Christmastime 2012, Luke was having night sweats, was pale in color, tired and had enlarged lymph nodes on both sides of the neck. They were so large they were visibly noticeable. After a trip to the hospital they were told to follow up with his doctor. After two weeks of antibiotics he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“2013 was awful because he was getting chemo every other day,” his mother Kanda said. For months, Luke underwent treatment at Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio. He lost all of his hair. By the end of February 2014, doctors determined him to be in remission.
“He was a champ throughout this; he usually had a smile on his face,” she said. “The chemo never really got him down, it was just hard for us because we know every kid doesn’t go through this. We have two phrases that we use ‘NEGU,’ Never ever give up and ‘Cancer Stinks.’”
“Give Kids the World” is the area of Disney where they will be staying. It is a secret place, unless you have a child with an illness. “We have heard wonderful things (about the trip) so we are excited,” said Kanda.
The kids can have whatever they want 24 hours a day. If they want ice cream for breakfast they get it. All meals are included. At night all the Disney characters come over to visit. “We are very excited!”
Nucor steel in Marion funded Luke’s trip. They funded 13 kids to go on their Wish Trips. They raised the money from their employees to send the kids.
“This has brought us closer together,” Kanda maintains. “Our marriage is a lot stronger, our faith is a lot stronger, our relationship with our boys has gotten stronger, we spend a lot of time together as a gamily, we hug and kiss more. We have been so thankful that this year, even though it has been a ride we never would have wanted to get on, our eyes were really opened to how much support there is for kids with cancer and how much people want to help. Our church has been great, neighbors, the community. We are OK, we can breath now. We have both gone back to work Luke is back in School. Northmor has been great.”
There are two things that the Benners want people to know. Although cancer research receives a lot of money only 4% goes to pediatric research. “Kids are getting the same chemo as adults” said Kanda.
The other thing they want to share is a fund raising event for pediatric cancer. Northmor School will be hosting “Kick It” the money raised will go to Children’s cancer research. It will be held Friday, May 23rd, 2014 from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm at Northmor School Fields, 7819 St Rt 19, Galion. (For more information contact Hilary Bunting, Game Organizer 419-946-3946 or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Erin is hoping to get all of the fire departments in the county to participate in Kick It and have one big fire department team.
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