Dear Family and Friends,
We hope you are doing well and enjoying a beautiful spring! We apologize that it has been so long since we have last updated you. Would you like the amazing news or amazing news first?
Parker had his three month follow-up visit towards the end of April. We were hoping for three things- a clear chest x-ray, tumor markers for the EBV virus in his blood work to be negative, and for his lymphocytes to be on the rise. We were ecstatic to find that all of these happened! Parker was excited to see Dr. Russell and the amazing nursing staff at Brenner's again. They were amazed with how well he is doing! He continues to receive physical therapy for nerve damage in his legs caused by the chemotherapy every two weeks and we practice at home every night. However, he doesn't let this slow him down at all! Parker will continue taking two medicines until July. We are hopeful that he will be able to stop taking all medicine in time for his seventh birthday. We are most grateful for the blessing of being able to watch Alston and Parker grow, love, and learn this spring!
As a language arts teacher, I pride myself on my ability to express myself. However, I found myself at a loss for words when describing Parker's Make-A-Wish experience to others. There truly are no words that can accurately convey how special his wish was for our family. Parker is a very compassionate boy and has a great love for animals. Therefore, he wished to be a zoo keeper.
Having never worked with Make-A-Wish before, I was unsure what to expect. Lynn Kanode, Parker’s wish granter, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation thought of everything! We spent last Monday at the Greensboro Science Center with the zoo curator, Jessica and several of her zoo keepers. A few of the boys’ favorite things were being able to feed a red panda, lemurs, a giant anteater (he loves guacamole), a tiger, and penguins. They were also able to help prepare the penguin food, watch a penguin make a painting, and blow bubbles inside the habitat for the penguins to pop. It was an amazing day!
On Tuesday, we were picked up by a limousine and taken to the NC Zoo. Lynn, Karen Jarvis, and countless other people from the NC Zoo worked diligently to ensure that this was an incredible day and it was! The boys were able to feed over twenty animals, help train and groom animals, get an all access behind the scenes tour, and broaden their knowledge and appreciation for the amazing diversity of animals God has given us. Lending Tree was a cooperate sponsor for Parker’s wish. They threw a Wild Kratt’s (Parker’s favorite show) themed lunch party for Parker. After working with fennec fox, giraffe, parrots, other birds, snakes, lizards, rhinoceros, elephants, ducks, antelope, bison, grizzly bear, ostrich, rabbit, tortoise, and baboons, Parker said his favorite experience was feeding, training, and petting the harbor seals. He described the day as “100% fun and the best day ever!”
On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to go the Winston-Salem Dash game. There both boys received jerseys, hats, and countless other goodies. Parker was able to throw out the first pitch and both boys were able to be junior PA announcers for the game by introducing players. We got a behind the scenes tour and had a fabulous time!
The entire experience was such a blessing for our entire family. It gave us an opportunity to take time out, relax, and have fun. Every detail had been attended to by the amazing volunteers at Make-A-Wish and their partners at the Greensboro Science Center, the North Carolina Zoo, and the Winston-Salem Dash. Participating in Make-A-Wish gave us all a positive capstone and one more reason to smile. We have had so many blessings during this last year. We have become closer as a family and have experienced the power of a loving community in innumerable ways.
Romans 15: 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Much love and blessings,
John, Lori, Alston, and Parker