There is an old African proverb, to the effect, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Children are considered a blessing from God for the whole community. The same idea comes through in Ecclesiastes 4:10 "For if they fall, one will lift up the other…".
This was demonstrated on the evening of April 2, as the people of Camden, Arkansas rallied together to support one of their own, Khiry Neal. The event was a fundraiser to help with the purchase of an accessible van. Khiry is one of our Be Extraordinary clients. His body was attacked by a staph infection last August. He went from being on football field as a defensive lineman, to being in a wheelchair with quadriplegia.
The challenges that he and our other clients face are beyond the comprehension of most of us. Some, like Khiry are fortunate to have the support of their family, friends and community. Shortly after being discharged home from Arkansas Children’s Hospital, volunteers in Camden had a “red light rally” standing at intersections throughout town with paper bags to collect money to purchase a generator for Khiry’s home. Being ventilator dependent for each breath he takes, a generator is a necessity. In one week end, they raised more than twice the amount needed.
An account at a local bank was set up to accept donations for other needs that Khiry will have.
Less than a year before Khiry became ill, he lost his mother to breast cancer. When she was no longer able to care for herself, Khiry’s grandmother, stepped in to care for her until she passed away. Prior to this, his grandmother had cared for her husband as he became disabled. Now she is caring for Khiry.
Khiry’s team, the Camden Fairview Cardinals have certainly not forgotten #96. His number is on their helmets. He still has his locker and his jersey was on the sideline of every game. The team motto…"#96 in the program, #1 in our hearts" is just another example of community. As Joe Namath says, “Life is a Team game…it’s the Big game.”
When the organizers of the event asked Khiry what his favorite things were, he told them sports heroes and pretty girls. Well they were all there! Several sports were represented by professional players. There was also no shortage of pretty girls. There was a fashion show with pretty girls of all ages.
The event was very well attended by people from Camden and beyond. The total amount raised has yet to be announced, but will be in excess of $30,000.
When Be-X demonstrated equipment to Khiry in December, 2010, the first thing he typed was, “ready for anything.” I wonder if he was ready for the community support that he has received.