Support grows for Symmes Valley student

Published 11:02 am Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It has now become a county effort as at least two band booster organizations are joining forces to help 12-year-old Ervin Ray White.

This summer the Symmes Valley Middle School student was diagnosed with a childhood cancer called ALL or acute lymphoblastic leukemia. ALL is a cancer of the white blood cells and Ervin Ray faces a bone marrow transplant in January. He has been in and out of Huntington, W.Va., and Columbus hospitals since the diagnosis.

Back in November the Symmes Valley Band Boosters started conducting a series of fund-raisers to help Ervin Ray, who is also a Symmes Valley band member, and his family with the medical and traveling expenses the Scottown family faces.

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Ervin Ray’s story has been one that has touched many in the county. Most recently the Ironton Band Boosters’ president contacted Kay Hager, her counterpart at Symmes Valley, asking what the Ironton group could do. Already Ironton has sent Symmes Valley a donation, plus an offer to help.

Sunday the Symmes Valley boosters held their second fund-raiser, a Longaberger Bingo, which along with an open house earlier this month, has brought in $1,116, according to treasurer Dora Myers. Also participating in the fund-raising efforts have been the Symmes Valley Board of Education and the school district’s teachers and staff.

But the organization isn’t resting on its laurels. Instead the boosters are sponsoring a raffle this week of a Remington 870 Express 12 gauge rifle that has been donated. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at C&C Grocery, State Route 141, Arabia, or by calling (740) 643-2060. The winner will be chosen on Sunday and does not have to be present to win.

Because of his susceptibility to other illnesses, the youth has to be home schooled and was in need of a laptop computer. Originally, buying the computer was one of the boosters’ main goals. However, last month an anonymous donor purchased a laptop for the boy. Best Buy also discounted part of the purchase price and added extra software and games free. Now all the money the boosters raise will go to the family’s expenses.

Ervin Ray must go back and forth from his eastern county home to Children’s Hospital in Columbus. He was scheduled for the bone marrow transplant Dec. 15, but that had to be postponed because he developed pneumonia, Hager said.

ALL is the most common cancer in children, found in 23 percent of cancer cases of those 15 years or younger, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Fortunately, it is a childhood cancer that has a good success rate. Today, about 85 percent of children with ALL live five or more years, the institute says.

Next on the agenda is a dinner with live entertainment that the Symmes Valley boosters hope to have after the holidays.