"It is for all the kids," said Steve Cobb, grandfather of Scout Lyerly, a patient of St. Jude Research Hospital.
Cobb welcomed and thanked everyone to the second annual Buffalo Island St. Jude Barbecue and Auction Night on Saturday, Oct. 6, at the school cafeteria in Monette. There was standing room only as supporters gathered to give and give they did. The event raised $185,000. Last year, the event raised more than $125,000.
"What an amazing community," Cobb said. "I started to compile a list of people to thank, but I realized it is so many, a list would be impossible."
It was emotional for Cobb as he shared their good news of Scout's cancer-free scan she received in March.
Scout was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was 20 months old. Cobb said a family member, Melinda Cobb, found out about an annual walk for St. Jude and Scout's family and friends joined in.
"We lost Melinda about a year ago," Cobb said. "Another member of our family, Roland Cobb, picked up the passion for St. Jude and helped start the barbecue auction last year. On May 1, we lost Roland. We want to dedicate tonight to the memory of Roland and Melinda."
Cobb spoke about the families they had gotten to know at St Jude, many of them who are helping with the auction and barbecue.
Lisa and Curtis Taylor of Caraway, parents of Caroline Taylor, who lost her battle to cancer five years ago, shared their story of praise to St. Jude through a terrible time in their lives.
"Caroline was diagnosed with a brain tumor," Mrs. Taylor said. "Five years ago we lost her. She lasted 10 months after she was diagnosed. Without St. Jude, we would not have had those 10 months. St. Jude could not save Caroline but they took care of her and us. They take care of all the needs of patients and families. We thank the Cobb and Lyerly family for letting us be a part of this."
"We were there," Mr. Taylor said. "You don't know what to do, but St. Jude is there. They tell you they will care for your child. I told them I had insurance and I wanted to know if it was paying. They told me not to worry, it was covered. It is because of people like you who are here tonight for this fundraiser they can tell other parents not to worry, it is covered. Thank you all."
Cobb introduced two other families and their young children who are patients at St. Jude.
Cobb then introduced Dwight Tosh, who gave a firsthand tribute to St. Jude.
"Dwight Tosh called me last year and introduced himself asking about Scout," Cobb said. "He asked me what patient number she was. When you become a patient at St. Jude you are given a number and the number is in sequence of the number of patients treated. I told him she was number 32,819. He said he was number 17."
"Tosh, a candidate for Craighead County Sheriff, is not here tonight about politics," Cobb said. "His opponent, Marty Boyd, is also here. They are both good men and Craighead County is fortunate to have both of them."
Tosh shared his story of being St. Jude Patient Number 17.
"It was 1962 and St. Jude was less than six months old," Tosh said. "I was 13, playing on the basketball team and the baseball team, and I got sick. I was a patient in the hospital and I did not know the doctors were meeting with my parents, telling them they had done all they could do for me. They heard about a new research hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and on April 23, 1962, I was carried through the doors at St. Jude."
Tosh said today the patient number would be between 38,000 to 39,000.
"It is more than just a number," he said. "It connects the past, present and future. Thank God for St. Jude and people like Danny Thomas, founder of St. Jude. I got to meet him personally. The old hospital is gone, but the memories are there.
"When I was there, St. Jude did not have places like the Ronald McDonald House or Target House. They brought my mom a recliner in my room. That was where she ate, slept, and stayed at my side while I took radiation and chemotherapy.
"I have had a great life. I've been blessed to live and I owe it to my faith in God, and my family, the medical staff at St. Jude, Danny Thomas who had a vision of St. Jude giving hope to families. Thanks to them someone like me has been allowed to live his dream.
"Patients at St. Jude did not choose to be sick, it chooses them. But I am proof that patients of St. Jude can live a full, productive life. If someone would have come into my room at St. Jude 50 years ago on Oct. 6 and told me I would be speaking in Monette, the town I was born in, telling you about St. Jude. I would not have thought it possible. There is no way I can thank St. Jude for what they did for me. You, all of you, are St. Jude's present day heroes. May God bless each of you."
Cobb thanked Tosh for sharing his story.
"St. Jude is a special place," he said. "I hope none of you will ever know St. Jude like we know St. Jude."
Cobb then introduced Christine Ross, St. Jude number 10,162. She shared her story of being diagnosed with cancer at the age of five.
"I will be 31 next month," she said. "Once you are a patient at St. Jude, they stay with you."
She said she will be checking into St. Jude Hospital for a week's stay of tests.
"St. Jude follows me," she said. "They share their research with the world. I will be there tomorrow with those children. They depend on you."
She said she is hoping to be part of a new study for the first medication to prevent breast cancer.
"Thank you for letting me share my story," Ross said.
Cobb again said the event is not just about Scout, it is about all of the children.
"Last year, when I told you it was not just about Scout, I looked into your eyes and I knew it was about Scout and our family. We cannot give enough thanks. Here we are one year later and it is not about Scout. Since March, she has had no sign of cancer. She has not had one sick day related to her neuroblastoma.
"When we went to St. Jude we saw a chart of the most common cancers on a scale that is updated every five years. At the end of 2005, leukemia was number one on the chart and neuroblastoma was number 10 with the lowest survivor rate, under 50 percent. When the new data came out in 2010, neuroblastoma had moved up to number six with a 76 percent cure rate because of the research being done at St. Jude.
"We have three of your young people from this area that have been diagnosed with cancer since last year. Savannah Stewart, who is out of the age range for St. Jude, has breast cancer. Noah Cook, a 15-year-old sophomore, has leukemia. At 15, he should not have to be battling bone marrow transplants and fighting cancer. Then there is Kaylee James, a 2011 graduate of BIC. She is at St. Jude fighting. This is about all of them and the hundreds we do not know their names."
Door prizes were given away with the meal tickets and the winner of the John Deere lawn tractor donated it back to be auctioned.
Other door prizes included a 42-inch television, an iPad, and a custom butchered freezer-ready hog.
Mitchell Hagen served as the auctioneer with help from ringmen Bob Grisham, Dwight Whittenburg, Kenny Qualls and Roger Bell helping keeping the bidding going.
Mark Taylor served as emcee and he expressed his appreciation to everyone.
In addition to the live auction, there was a silent auction.
A large variety of items numbering 100 were auctioned. A signed baseball by Yadier Molina went for $2,100, and homemade cinnamon rolls for $600. Food was provided by Nikki B's of Monette and Jerry Cobb. People were not there looking for a bargain, they were there for the children of St. Jude.