Above, Jordy Walling, a 10 year old St. Jude patient from Cave City at a recent checkup at the hospital. Bottom left, Henry Lockhart, a kindergartner and student of Jordy’s mother, Crystal, who held a Lego party for St. Jude, collecting over 80 sets for patients in the hospital. Bottom right, Jordy’s mother watching over her son after his June brain surgery at St. Jude.
By: Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor
If you can’t see the good in the world, be it.
Oftentimes it has been said that it is selfish to bring a child into the cruelness of today’s world. But more often than not, it is children who show adults the definition of true love and compassion
For one ten-year-old who has endured over three years of pokes, prods, tests and surgery, his outlook and huge heart is not only a true testament to kindness, but has also radiated throughout the community. The community’s love for him has created a huge ripple effect, that has proven, God makes no mistakes in allowing children to be born into this cruel world.
Last week Eddie and Crystal Walling and their son Jordan, or Jordy as he is affectionately called by all who know him, made a trip to St. Jude, this time with a dual purpose.
Jordy has been monitored since having brain surgery in June at the Memphis based, world renowned children’s cancer and research hospital. This trip was to deliver money and Lego sets from the Cave City Community and a very special child who was inspired by Jordy.
Besides his mother Crystal painting children’s faces at football games and raising nearly $600, one of Crystal’s kindergarten students collected 81 sets of Legos for children at St. Jude. He proudly pulled the wagon in with the sets for children, just like him, who have been forced to remain hospitalized due to their illnesses.
Kindergartner Henry Lockhart’s mother, Katie explained the family was planning to hold a Lego themed party for their son’s sixth birthday. For two years, Covid had prevented him from having parties with his friends from school and church. Katie said, “We weren’t expecting gifts, but I knew people would bring them anyway so I wanted to think of a way to use that to benefit others.” Her sister came up with the idea to do Legos for St. Jude.
She went on to say she spoke with Henry about how the children at St. Jude were very sick for a very long time. “I explained that sometimes they have to stay there for a long time, and we talked about how hard that would be. I told him we could ask his friends to bring Legos to donate to the hospital for the kids, and he was all for it,” she explained. After posting it to Facebook, people began responding. “People from my husband’s hometown (where we lived for 11 years) started asking about helping out. I made an Amazon Wishlist so people could purchase and have them sent right to us. I wasn’t sure how he would respond when they started arriving, but he never asked to open a single one. He just kept saying, “The kids are going to be so happy!” People brought them to me at work, to his party, and ordered off Amazon. We ended up with 81 sets total,” Katie said with pride.
She said Henry was so happy to get the photos of Jordy pulling the wagon full of Legos in to St. Jude. I asked him how the Lego drive made him feel, and he said, “Happy! I was happy to give those kids Legos because they are sad, they have to stay in their hospital beds.”
Jordy, who is a fifth grader at Cave City Elementary and his parents, Eddie and Crystal Walling became very familiar with St. Jude in 2020. Since it has been a huge part of their hearts.
In the fall of 2019, Jordan’s parents, Eddie and Crystal Walling’s lives changed forever. They noticed their son began blinking more frequently than usual and felt he might just be having some eye issues. After taking him to their family eye doctor, Dr. Mark Davis, it was determined that there was an issue far more concerning than normal eye problems. This is where their long journey began as Jordy, as those who know him affectionately call him, was sent to a retina specialist.
His mother said, “In November, the specialist looked at his eye and he threw around some big words that we didn’t understand at that moment, but he said, ”I have a doctor friend in Memphis who I want to refer you to,” so I wasn’t concerned because two doctors had now said Jordan had 20/20 vision.”
Two months later, she received a call from St. Jude while working as a teacher at Cave City Elementary. She said, “I thought it was someone wanting money. Ha! I answered it and Tracy introduced herself and tells me that Jordan has appointments at St. Jude. I was in shock,”
Because she was at school with her students, she had little time to process the emotional statements she had just unexpectedly received when the woman went on to explain that doctors thought her son had retinoblastoma, or eye cancer. Crystal explained that was the “big word” they heard from doctors in November. As if the call and the dreaded C word that everyone knows was being processed in front of her students. “She said we had a week of tests that would start on Monday. If all went well, we would come home on Friday. If I had any questions, I could call. I called. I asked silly things. Where do I stay? Do I bring shampoo? How much money do I need for food? Her answer every time was not to worry about that. They would take care of everything. Just pack clothes.”
Jordan went through a series of about 40 tests, scans and blood drawing during the week. As the Wallings left St. Jude on Friday, Crystal explained the doctors were “completely perplexed.”. Tests had determined Jordy had two tumors in his eye and a non-cancerous one on his brain.
Jordan continued to return for monitoring the tumors and earlier this year the brain tumor was beginning to cut off the cerebrospinal fluid flow. The fluid acts as a shock absorber, cushioning the brain against the skull. Cerebrospinal fluid allows the brain and spinal cord to become buoyant, reducing the effective weight of the brain. When it is reduced or cut off severe headaches and neurological issues happen.
In June, Jordy made his way back to St. Jude to have brain surgery to have the tumor removed. Before leaving, a huge crowd of well-wishers showed their support and love for him and his family as they made the trek, again to the place Jordy knew was a necessary evil to get him well.
Up until after his surgery, the Walling had no answers as all tests, including genetic ones, did not indicate the cause of the tumors. They sent the tumor off for testing and we prayed for answers. Up to this point, nothing had given us an answer.
In July when they returned to St. Jude for follow up scans, there was “a spot” where he had just had surgery a month before. The doctor said it could be scar tissue or it could be regrowth. About a month ago the pathology results came back on the tumor. It is Mosaic Tuberous Sclerosis, which means TS cells are in less than 10 percent of his genetic makeup and limited to specific organs.
During the Walling family’s Thanksgiving break, they again returned for what was a busy day filled with 13 appointments. They discovered the spot on his brain was now gone. “It is just a beautiful brain. He has a few TS spots on his skin, so they will monitor his skin closely, the tumors are still on his eye, and he has some cysts on a kidney,” Crystal explained but knows her son is in the best care possible and will continue to be monitored.
The Walling family is forever grateful for the care they received and continue to receive at St. Jude and the family continue to spread ripples through the community, inspiring others to do their own type of donations.
Crystal said, “You see the commercials for St. Jude that says no one pays at St. Jude and you think yeah right…. but it’s really real! We have never received a bill. They pay for our meals, a place to stay, whether it be Tri-Delta housing or a hotel, our gas for travel, and all of his care. Plus shampoo, conditioner, soap and a hairdryer. Ha.”
Currently, Cave City FFA is collecting soda tabs for the Ronald McDonald House at St. Jude. Students, faculty, and staff are collecting soda tabs and at the end of the year they will all be delivered to St. Jude. Anyone wishing to save those is encouraged to bring them to the school.
Crystal’s class will also be conducting a spring toy drive and will deliver on their next visit. “When a kiddo has a rough day, a procedure, a test, or maybe blood work it is not uncommon for a nurse or doctor to turn around and offer a toy to the child. Jordan has been the recipient of many cars, superheroes, Legos, activity books, and so many other toys. The least I can do is help by giving back.”
Another project Crystal’s class has done was at the end of the 21-22 school year, was painted rocks to be hidden at St. Jude. “The kids love finding and hiding beautiful rocks and plastic ducks. When our school counselor found out my class was doing this, she got the whole elementary campus involved. My car was loaded with rocks.”
While Jordan still returns to St. Jude every three or four months for checkups, which his mother said will always be nerve wrecking. “I’m sure, but God has a plan and a purpose for this and for Jordan.”
One thing is for certain…through love and compassion, one little boy and his family have created a huge impact on an entire community that spreads regularly to the halls of St. Jude.