PROCEEDS from a 5K-walk/run fundraiser held on Sept. 8 to help kids like Blake Carpenter, a Jackson County boy, who is living with a brain tumor, will go to help fund a cure and to support affected families. Carpenter, 14, of Pendergrass, was diagnosed with Craniopharyngioma, a tumor on his pituitary gland when he was four years old. Since his diagnosis, Blake has undergone several surgeries and numerous chemotherapy treatments. His tumor, which is inoperable, consists of reoccurring cysts and fluid on his brain. So far, treatments have been successful.

He has currently undergone 12 surgeries to date to drain cysts that continue to grow and put pressure on his brain stem, cranial nerves, etc., which cause him to have headaches, nausea, and vomiting. As well as draining the cysts, his surgeons have placed reservoirs in two different cysts to help with draining them.

Now 14, Blake is “like every other 14-year-old,” says his mother, Amy. “He is a wonderful big brother to (his siblings). He loves to play the drums, basketball, fish, hunt, and ride his bike. Blake is a fun-loving, compassionate, and well-rounded young man who loves life.”

The last 10 years have been a roller coaster of emotions and uncertainty for the family, however, said Amy.

“When your child is sick with a life threatening illness it is very difficult and at times devastating. There have been times that I have felt that everyone else in the world or at least my little circle of life is going on with their daily routines and I am just fighting for my child’s life. Every MRI scan, headache, nausea, etc. is a worry as his parents and we pray for ‘normal’ illnesses.”

TUMOR TROOPER WALK/RUN

The Brain Tumor Foundation for Children’s (BTFC) inaugural Tumor Trooper Run/Walk will take place on Saturday, Sept. 8, in Alpharetta, near North Point Mall. The event will include a 5K run and 1-mile walk and event proceeds will be split 50 percent toward programs and services and 50 percent toward research.

This year, some family friends of the Carpenters have organized a team in honor of Blake, called TEAM BLAKE. Blake and his family plan to walk in the race, as well.

“We are excited to participate in this year’s Tumor Trooper Walk/Run,” said Amy. “The funds raised this year will be split between research funding and support for BTFC services, which include the Butterfly Fund, which provided $357,000 in emergency financial support for families during our past fiscal year. The Brain Tumor Foundation has been a blessing to us over the years and we are excited to help raise money. The chemotherapy treatment Blake had done last June has only been used to treat Craniopharyngiomas in the last two years and we are so thankful for the research that was done using this chemo.”

In his own words, Blake explained why people should donate to the fundraiser: “It helps researchers find a cause of brain tumors and create medicine to help get rid of them,” he said.

To donate to Team Blake, go to http://www.firstgiving.com/btfc or call 404-252-4107.

BRAIN TUMOR FOUNDATION

Established in 1983 as the first nonprofit organization in the United States to focus on pediatric brain tumor disease, the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children is an organization committed to improving the lives of children and families who are affected.

“They’re wonderful,” said Amy. “Families that deal with brain tumors know and see what sickness and even death, is. And it’s a hard journey to be on and to have that fear every time you go in a clinic. A week ago, (Blake) had an MRI, and my husband and I could feel each other just getting anxious and worried. And nobody knows that feeling unless you’re dealing with that. To belong to The Brain Tumor Foundation and have the support that we have and we get to meet families that know how we feel. It’s good to talk to other families that have children who have the same symptoms that Blake has. You never know what’s around the corner and what these researchers are going to find. I asked our surgeon if this is something Blake is going to have to live with for the rest of his life and he said, ‘You know, I can’t really answer that, because in 10 years from now, they might have a pill that makes the tumor go away.’ And I’m still waiting on that pill,” she said.

Of the Carpenter family, Mary Moore, executive director for the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children, said: “We have known the Carpenter family for many years, since 2005, in fact. They are a wonderful family and Blake is an awesome young man who continually inspires everyone around him. We are so proud that Blake and his family will be out at the Tumor Trooper Run/Walk with their many team members as part of Team Blake.”

Of the event, Moore said, “This is a very important event. The Brain Tumor Foundation for Children is the first line of support for hundreds of families of children with brain and spinal cord tumors in metro Atlanta and throughout Georgia. The proceeds from the event will help the Foundation provide — among other things — emergency financial support for families who are struggling to make ends meet in the midst of an unthinkable situation. Treatment can be extremely grueling. In most cases children must endure surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and much more — often over a period of several years — to treat their tumors or cancer. At the same time, parents need to be there for their child as well as maintain the household and care for their other children. In most cases parents will lose income as they are forced to take unpaid time off from work.

The Brain Tumor Foundation for Children helps families with items such as rent, utilities, car payments, gasoline, medical-related travel expenses, and much, much more to help families through this difficult time. Our budget for this program is $375,000 for the current fiscal year; approximately $150,000 of that will assist families whose children are treated at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta alone.”

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