And as a way of giving back to the many friends and strangers who supported them through Gus’ illness, especially those at the St. Jude Affiliate Clinic at Niswonger Children’s Hospital, the McClellands are inviting the entire community to join them Saturday afternoon for a benefit block party on their home turf on the 500 block of West Locust Street.
How they plan to celebrate:
• Live music by locally well known performers Randy and the Lugnuts and Joy Blair, and Austin Barrett , from Asheville, North Carolina, with a sound system on loan from The Willow Tree Coffee House and Sound Room
• A potluck spread of covered dishes, snacks and refreshments.
• A closed street for free-wheeling bikes and scooters, chalk art and bubbles for the kids.
• And for adults, lawn games and a complimentary keg from the Johnson City Brewing Company.
What it’s all about:
Gus’ dad Dave said, “This is to get the whole neighborhood and the whole community together to thank them because with Gus, we really got a lot of support from neighbors and from people who were complete strangers to us.
“And we want to raise awareness about the lack of support for childhood cancer research,” he said. “Only 4 percent of all cancer research funds go to children’s cancers and the rest of it goes to adult cancers. You would think it would be a lot because they’re children. But because of that kids are getting adult treatments and adult dosages that are harmful to their bodies because they haven’t tested them on children.”
And finally, he said, there will be former and current patients of the St. Jude Affiliate Clinic at Saturday’s party and some of the staff as well. In honor of all of them, the McClelland kids’ lemonade stand will be converted into a collection point for monetary donations and new toys for the clinic.
The toys are for the hospital’s Child Life Advocates, who Dave said never come through a door without a surprise gift to lift the children’s spirits. Plush toys and stuffed animals that tend to harbor germs are the only exception to the collection.
A large crowd is expected and ample parking will be available on the large gravel lot across West Walnut Street from One Acre Cafe at the Sevier Street intersection.
Guests may follow Sevier Street to the east end of the party block where most of the activities will be centered.
Portable toilets will be set up on the west end of the block near South Side School, compliments of the Southside Neighborhood Organization.
The party starts at noon and will run through 5 p.m. Bring your own lawn chairs. Covered dishes are welcomed.