Symmes Valley band helps Scottown boy

Published 11:20 am Friday, November 21, 2008

A 12-year-old Scottown boy’s fight for his life got personal for the band and band boosters of Symmes Valley High School.

That’s because he’s one of their own.

In late August, Ervin Ray White, who started band last year at Symmes Valley Middle, was diagnosed at Cabell Huntington Hospital with ALL or acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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ALL, a cancer of the white blood cells, is the most common cancer in children and has one of the highest success rates. About 85 percent of children with ALL will live five or more years, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Immediately after the diagnosis he was rushed to Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Since then, it has been constant trips to Columbus and back home for Ervin Ray and his parents.

On Dec. 15 he is scheduled to be back in Columbus for a bone marrow transplant and an expected three-month stay in the hospital. That will be followed by two more months at that area’s Ronald McDonald House.

Kay Hager, president of the Symmes Valley band boosters, was recently updated about Ervin’s situation after talking with the boy’s grandmother.

“She had explained he lost his insurance … and they had tried to get a laptop to try to tutor him with his homework and when traveling to the hospital,” Hager said.

Charlotte Walters, Ervin’s grandmother, said that the boy had recently lost his medical card.

“I wanted to do something to help,” Hager said. “This is a child who is only 12, a member of our band family.”

This Saturday the boosters and others at the Symmes Valley High are sponsoring a Longaberger open house from 2-4 p.m. in the Ag Room. Then, on Dec. 14, also at 2 p.m. at the school, the group will hold bingo games where Longaberger baskets will be given out as prizes.

“Every bit will go toward him and his family. We want to buy him the laptop and give the rest of the money to the family for traveling expenses and expenses they may incur,” Hager said. “We’re trying frantically to get all the baskets paid for. It is important to get them donated.”

Ervin’s plight is especially poignant for Hager. Her son is just a year older than the 12-year-old.

“It hits home pretty quick,” she said.

Later on the boosters plan to hold a spaghetti dinner as a third fund-raiser.

Band director Robert Mann was the one who gave the OK for the boosters to follow through on their fund-raisers. Mann just started a year ago and although he has never worked with Ervin, recently met his mother, Melisa Walters.

“You could tell there is a lot of burden on her mind. My heart goes out to her and her family,” Mann said. “We are a small band program and gaining a lot of enthusiasm in the community. I got a list from the previous band director and I found out Ervin was in the hospital. I was looking forward for him to be one of my band students. We are a band family. We take care of our own.”

For more information on the events or on a way to make donations, contact Symmes Valley at (740) 643-2371.