Stillwater News Press

Local News

September 14, 2012

Stillwater family organizes toy drive for patients

STILLWATER, Okla. — A Stillwater boy with leukemia is taking his idea of helping others in a similar position and making it a reality.

Brandi Graves noticed a problem with her 9-year-old son Jacob Flowers last December.

“Over Christmas break, he had a head cold that wouldn’t go away and he didn’t feel good one day and I was trying to get him ready,” she said. “And he wouldn’t put on his socks and shoes and so I did it for him and his toenail beds were like white.”

She took her son to his pediatrician, concerned that he may be anemic. The next day, after going to OU Medical Center, the family was informed of bad news — Flowers had leukemia.

“We were admitted into the hospital and they started treatment that exact same day,” she said.

Chemotherapy was administered in Flower’s spine.

“We were in the hospital for 16 days in the beginning and then we came home and they fought for 30 days to get him in remission,” Graves said.

The methods worked. The boy was in remission. However, he is still on a three-year treatment plan based on the risk of the leukemia returning.

“This last Monday, he got his spinal tap and some chemo in his spine and they put him into maintenance,” she said.

Maintenance is easier, she said. Now, they will return for a monthly spinal tap and get blood taken locally for cell counts every two weeks.

Flowers said the hardest part was the spinal tap.

“It hurts, but they put me asleep,” he said.

Each child is given a choice of toys following the painful procedure. It was at that point that Flowers got his idea.

“We’ve gone in there before and all the shelves have been full, but it was kind of bare this time,” said stepfather Lance Graves. “The OU Medical Center doesn’t go out and buy the toys. It’s by donations only, so when they go through a period where nobody is giving toys, there’s nothing in there.”

He said Flowers remarked he wanted to fill the closet. And so, a plan was put into motion. Flower’s mother and stepfather posted on local websites and personal Facebook pages, asking for toys to be donated.

“I don’t know if he really understands the extent of how this has taken off,” she said. “We’ve been talking to him about it.”

Mrs. Graves said the idea has blown up.

“We’ve got toys coming from Florida, Wisconsin, Tulsa, Bartlesville, Tonkawa, Perry, Perkins ...,” she said.

More than 55 responses came in two days.

Friends, family and non-acquaintances are holding drop off areas in neighboring cities.

Flowers and his family will accept toys in the parking lot of Food Pyramid every Sunday from 3 to 4 p.m. until the boy’s next appointment Oct. 8. Flower’s sister, Maddi, 11, is set to prepare signs to alert passing motorists.

Mrs. Graves said all donations must be unopened toys and no stuffed animals due to germs and compromised immune systems.

“It’s pretty awesome to me because when we first found out that Jacob had leukemia, there was such an outpour for us,” Mr. Graves said.

“People helping us out tremendously. So, it’s our turn to give back. It’s pretty cool.”

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