Gift of Life House opens door to Blountville family

Sue Guinn Legg • Jan 27, 2012 at 8:34 AM

The family of Weston Keeton, a 5-year-old Blountville boy who has been in the cardiac intensive care unit at the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital since June 1, are moving to a guest house near the hospital with Weston’s brand new baby sister, 4-day-old Ellie.

Weston’s parents, Adam and Julie Keeton, have been staying at a apartment near the hospital that was previously provided to them at no cost while they awaited a heart and lung transplant needed to save Weston’s life. The hospital’s contract with the apartment’s owner has expired and beginning in February the family’s rent would have increased to $2,600 a month.

For friends at home who are keeping up with Weston via the internet, Julie, who gave birth to Ellie by Cesarean section on Monday, posted an update late last week thanking everyone for their support and prayers. “Things are falling into place and God is helping us through every step of the way,” she wrote. Weston was eating and feeling better and Julie and Adam were packing for their move to the Gift of Life House, a guest house for families with loved ones awaiting transplants.

Contacted by phone in his wife and daughter’s room at another Philadelphia hospital on Wednesday, Adam confirmed mother and daughter are all doing well. Their plan is for Julie and Ellie to stay at the guesthouse and for Adam to return to Tennessee and to work by mid-February. Adam’s mother, Pam was with Weston and his older brother Easton at the children’s hospital on Wednesday and they too were doing well.

Julie said she and Ellie will be safe at the guest house which provides around-the- clock security, evening meals and a four-wheel drive vehicle for transportation to and from the hospital in the event of snow. The cost to the family will be $20 per night or about $600 a month. “My plan is to stay nights at the hospital with Ellie and Weston and go to the GOL house for naps and dinner, then return to the hospital and start it all over again. It will be hard but not impossible. We will just have to get into a routine,” Julie wrote.

Weston, meanwhile, is ready for his transplant and the family is continuing to wait for the right match. “It’s usually a long wait but it could be tomorrow. It could be today. It could be a year from now. But we expect it will be sooner,” Adam said.

Back at home, fund raising is continuing to help the Keetons’ with the cost of their stay in Philadelphia, expenses at home during their time away from work and medical costs for Weston not covered by insurance.

Donations to help the family may be made at any Eastman Credit Union location. Donations may be made payable to Adam or Julie Keeton, and earmarked for the “Weston Keeton Medical Expense Account,” by mail to Eastman Credit Union, 2021 Meadowview Lane, Kingsport, TN 37660; or by calling Sherry at Eastman Credit Union at 229-8200.

Bloomingdale Baptist Church in Kingsport will host a family festival to help Weston and his family on March 17, featuring a little something for everyone — a rummage sale, concessions, a silent auction, shopping vendors, face painting and children’s activities. A group in Rogersville is planning a benefit ride for Weston in June. Adam said other fundraising events are also in the works and details will be posted at the “Praying for Weston” Facebook page as they become available. He added his thanks to Julie’s “for everything everyone has done” to help their family and sent special thanks to the Kari’s Heart Foundation. Adam also asked for continued prayers for Weston.

Updates on Weston’s condition are also posted regularly by Julie at caringbridge.org/visit/WestonKeeton. More information about how to help the family can be obtained by contacting Weston’s uncle, Dwight Mitchell, at Dwight Mitchell Insurance Agency Inc., 917 E. Watauga Ave., or P.O. Box 820 Johnson City, TN 37605, by calling 928-7811 or by visiting www.dwightmitchellins.com.

Champion Chevrolet Cadillac is raffling away one lucky winner’s choice of a 2012 Camaro convertible, 2012 4x4 Silverado, a 2012 Cadilac SRX or $25,000 in cash to help support pediatric oncology services for local children in cancer treatment at Mountain States Health Alliance facilities. Raffle tickets are $50 and will be available through noon on Saturday at the Champion dealership on Bristol Highway, or noon Friday online at MountainStatesFoundation.org, at the Mountain States Foundation office at 2335 Knob Creek Road, Suite No. 101; at the Health Resources Center at The Mall at Johnson City; or at any Mountain States hospital gift shop. The drawing will be held at 10 p.m. Saturday at the foundations’ annual Spirit Gala at the Millennium Center. Winners do not have to be present to win.

Tickets to the gala, which is one of the foundation’s largest fund raising events of the year, are $200 per person and still available in limited supply. The theme for this year’s gala is Spirit of Masquerade and “creative black tie” evening wear and masks are encouraged. All proceeds from the gala will go to oncology services at MSHA facilities. Reservations must be confirmed today by contacting Tiffany Willis at the foundation office at 302-3131.

If there is a need or a charitable project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or call 929-3111, ext. 335.

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