WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published December 12, 2011, 05:02 PM

Community Comes Together to Support Grand Forks 7-year-old With Leukemia

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Jack Parrish is a 2nd grader at Kelly Elementary, but going through what no child his age should have to.

By: Stacie Van Dyke, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The community of Grand Forks came together to raise money for a seven-year-old diagnosed with leukemia.

Jack Parrish is a 2nd grader at Kelly Elementary, but going through what no child his age should have to.

Just eight weeks ago, Jack was diagnosed with leukemia and air-ambulanced to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. He spent six weeks at St. Mary's and is now back home receiving treatment at Altru.

“When we found out that our son had leukemia, I dropped to my knees in the middle of Altru. It was overwhelming. We support families in the community who have had this experience, but you never expect it to be you,” Jack's mom Cassie Gerhardt said.

On Saturday, families came to a benefit put on by Jack's daycare, Creative Kids Corner. It included a spaghetti dinner and silent auction. The funds help pay for Jack's treatment and frequent trips to Rochester for his next three years of chemotherapy.

“It's so overwhelming with trips here, and chemo, and off work because you've got to bring him here and there, so a benefit like this really helps the family. It helps them continue on … and it helps us, too, to feel like we're useful,” Creative Kids Corner owner Jane Enright said.

Jack's mom says the last eight weeks have been the hardest of her life, and she's gotten by with the overwhelming support of the community.

“I hope that everybody gets a chance to feel this kind of love, but that they never have to go through an experience like this,” Gerhardt said.

Jack welcomed everyone Saturday night with smiles and hugs, but his smile has been the biggest when he's playing with his friends.

“For a while there, he was getting sicker, but today when he first walked in we saw a huge smile from him. It was so fun to see,” Jack's teacher Krista Cebula said.

Jack is extremely loved by his classmates who are anxious for his return.

“We have a dog waiting in his spot that's called Jack, but we would definitely rather have jack back in his place,” Cebula said.

To help the family, donations can be made to Team Super Jack at the UND Memorial Union, room 136, 2901 University Avenue, Grand Forks.