Five and a half years ago, when my daughter Madeline was 8 months old, I took her to the doctor with a strange looking rash.
Our pediatrician - the kind Davidson resident Dr. Kevin Freeman - took a look and immediately ordered blood work.
The nurses came in with worried faces to prick Maddie's finger. They looked at results, pricked her finger again. I stood by the door - and overheard Freeman on the phone, asking for an oncologist.
Freeman immediately sent us to Carolinas Medical Center. He told us he thought what my daughter had was not leukemia but an autoimmune blood disorder called Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura.
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He was right, and we were lucky. After a four-day hospitalization and treatment, the disease righted itself. For the next year, we spent many days at the pediatric cancer center. Fast forward to this past December, walking with my family at Christmas in Davidson.
We stop at a bake sale stand in front of Market Properties. The sign reads "Cookies for Kids' Cancer," and I recognize it immediately. I've seen the logo on the "Today" show and in Oprah's O magazine. The ladies and kids working ask for a donation of any sort, and then my two hungry daughters were free to pick the cookies of their choice (and neither shares a nibble with their parents).
Davidson resident Donna Reynolds organized that stand, and it turns out that she has quite a personal connection to the cause. She is a college friend of Gretchen Witt, the mother who started the nonprofit organization after her son, Liam, was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma.
Wanting to help, Reynolds has organized the Christmas in Davidson bake sale for the last two years.
"We had eight to 10 people who baked (cookies) or donated the hot chocolate, cups, napkins, etc.," she said. "We had a great response from people willing to do whatever was needed."
Reynolds then turned the duties over to her children, Ballard and Mary Grace, and several other young neighbors and friends, who ran the stand.
The stand sold out of cookies by Friday night, raising $1,017 for the cause.
Cornelius resident Emily Fowler is also involved in the cause on an even larger scale.
In 2007, after following Liam's blog, she was spurred into action and organized a bake sale. Her commitment grew as she began to work closely with Witt, who, like her, is a Meredith College alumna. She began writing for the Web site, coordinating volunteers and helping to organize mass bake sales across the country. Fowler also worked hand-in-hand with companies like Philosophy and Glad, which have partnered with the organization to help raise money and increase awareness.
This past September, she flew to New York City to help bake 30,000 cookies in a single day, garnering attention from "Today", Martha Stewart and Jimmy Fallon.
"We, as parents, often don't like to face the fact that pediatric cancer is the No. 1 disease killer of children," Fowler said. Both Reynolds and Fowler said they would love to see Lake Norman residents host one for Valentine's Day.