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Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

Struck Strikes Out: Rebels and Pirates 'pay it forward'

Friday, February 26, 2010

"Paying it forward" is a relatively new and catchy phrase in today's society that continues to take on more and more significance as many among us so desperately try to recapture the good old days when love of all mankind, decency and compassion were among the most admired traits.

There's an amazing little second-grade girl in the Galva-Holstein School District who has been blessed by strangers "paying it forward" to her benefit as she fights Ewings Lymphoma, a dastardly cancer diagnosed last year.

Jocelyn Draper, who turns eight years old April 2, has been undergoing chemotherapy for several months and faces at least one or two more years of chemotherapy at Children's Hospital in Omaha, Neb.

Her treatments consist of two days of an IV drip in Omaha, two weeks off, and then five days of an IV drip and two weeks off, before the cycle comes around again.

There's no telling how long Jocelyn must endure the treatments that have zapped her strength but never her will, but her grandpa Dan Ehler says it will be at least one or two more years.

The good news is that her last check-up showed the tumors in her lungs and back have disappeared, but the word "remission" has yet to be uttered by Jocelyn's mom and dad, Jeannie and Jason Ehler.

Jeannie is a high school English teacher at Galva-Holstein, but she has been unable to work since the treatments began, and Jocelyn has been unable to attend school all school year since her diagnosis.

The wondrous beauty of "paying it forward" manifested itself this winter when the Westwood High School Student Council held a two-night fundraiser for Jocelyn, a little girl none of the Westwood kids even knew.

Westwood raised more than $2,000 for Jocelyn by hosting a bake sale and snowcone table at two home basketball games in January.

"Our kids were simply paying it forward," said Westwood School secretary Patti Witten, who was instrumental in organizing the Westwood events.

"In November, 2008 five Westwood wrestlers and their coach were involved in a tragic head-on traffic accident and all six suffered severe injuries. The outpouring support both emotional and monetary was astounding!

"Galva-Holstein's Student Council hosted a potato bar fundraiser for "Build a House for Blake." Blake was paralyzed in the accident and the Westwood community and surrounding areas rallied to raise money to build a handicapped accessible house for the Blake Jorgenson family. The G-H Student Council donated over $3,000 to the project.

"Parents of our injured wrestlers were the first to donate baked goods and make montary donations for the little G-H girl. There were several tables full!"

Patti goes on to say that the Westwood community continues to follow Jocelyn's progress on "CaringBridge," an Internet website.

In addition to Westwood's, the Galva-Holstein community and Cherokee area also have been on board with both private and similar donations to help Jocelyn's family alleviate the incredible expenses incurred while fighting the cancer and attending the frequent treatments.

There is a Jocelyn Draper Fund established at the American National Bank in Holstein for those wishing to donate to Jocelyn's cause.

"She's handling it pretty good, although there are some tough times," said Jocelyn's proud grandpa. "Her lungs are clean and the tumors are gone and we're all hoping and praying for the best. She's been to Cherokee (Regional Medical Center) for transfusions and monitoring. She faces a lot more chemo, but she's a tough little girl."

It should be noted that Westwood and Galva-Holstein (now Ridge View) are longtime athletic rivals in the former Maple Valley Conference and now the recently-formed Western Valley Conference.

The beauty in all of this is that history meant nothing when it came time to show love and tangible support for someone in need, and the G-H and Westwood students answered the bell and paid it forward.

Sometimes we're critical of our kids and their actions but, thanks to acts like these, most of the time we love and appreciate them far more than they will ever know.

Now, all we need is for Jocelyn to heal and for Blake to give her the grand tour of his new home. It's time for them to get to know each other.

Paul Struck
Struck Strikes Out