Weston Keeton, the little boy from Blountville who has spent the past 15 months at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia waiting for a heart and double lung transplant, celebrated his sixth birthday at the hospital Monday, a milestone that many doctors never expected Weston to reach
His mother, Julie, said it was actually the third birthday Weston has celebrated at the hospital and one the family felt more blessed than ever to mark. His strength continues to surprise everyone, Julie said in an update on his condition.
After a year in the hospital’s intensive care unit, Weston moved to the step-down unit about three months ago and since has had more liberty for trips outside and to the cafeteria.
On the one-year anniversary of his latest stay at the hospital, he cashed in on an invitation to the hospital kitchen to cook with the chefs. And when his dad and brothers and sisters came to the hospital to celebrate his birthday with Weston and Julie, the six Keeton siblings got their first chance to play outside the hospital together.
Reflecting on his birthday, Julie said it’s hard to believe Weston has turned 6. “It seems unreal,” she said. “We always knew he was special but had no idea how he would change hearts and change lives the way he has.”
As for the transplant, she said, “We’re pretty much just waiting. He’s at the top of the list ... as high as he can get.” And while he has had a couple of organ offers, his mother said the difficulty of donating three sound organs is adding to their wait. “The doctors only want the best for him,” she said.
Fundraising for the transplant is also going well. Chera Woods is conducting a Thirty-One Purses benefit with details available under the “my parties” icon at www.mythirtyone.com/chera.
The Baptist church in Bloomingdale is planning a Weston Fest in October. And the Keetons’ family members and friends are working to get a couple of bands together for another musical benefit tentatively planned for November.
In the meantime, Julie said the family’s continuing wish is for everyone to visit the “Praying for Weston” page at the Children’s Organ Transplant Association website, www.cotaforwestonk.com, and the “Praying for Weston” Facebook page and invite their friends to the pages too.
“Adam and I feel so strongly that we couldn’t have gotten through the last 15 months without all of the love, prayers, and support from everyone. We appreciate it so much,” she said.
Up-to-date information on Weston’s condition and opportunities to contribute to the drive to cover the family’s costs are available online at www.cotaforwestonk.com, and at the “Praying for Weston” page on Facebook. Donations to COTA earmarked for “Weston K” may also be made by mail to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, 2501 West COTA Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403.
The Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Kingsport will host a patriotic “Stars-N-Stirrups” student celebration and volunteer appreciation horse show from 12:30-3 p.m. Sept. 15 at Small Miracles arena, 1026 Rock Springs Drive. Small Miracles’ volunteers and supporters will be recognized for all they have given to the center’s students in a program highlighting the young horse lovers’ individual progress. Admission is free and the community is invited to come and witness the students’ accomplishments and to help honor volunteers for their spirit.
The Christ-based, nonprofit Small Miracles program works to enhance the physical, emotional, social and cognitive growth of young people with special needs through equine-assisted activities and therapies. For more information about the program, call Small Miracles at 349-1111.
The Johnson City Chamber of Commerce is recruiting volunteers for the third-annual running of the Blue Grass Half Marathon coming up Sept. 23. The race will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the Carnegie Hotel. Volunteers are needed to assist with packet pick-ups and an exposition planned in conjunction with the marathon to be held Sept. 22 at the East Tennessee State University Mountain States Health Alliance Athletic Center mini-dome, and to help with the course set-up, intersection marshaling, race celebration and course clean-up on the day of the race.
Anyone interested in helping may contact Elisa Britt at 461-8006 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Heather Hill at 461-8004 or email@example.com for details. More information about the marathon, including registration forms, is available at www.BluegrassHalfMarathon.com or may be obtained by calling at 461-8047.
If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at firstname.lastname@example.org, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.