The people of Deaver reminded many of us about why we cherish our small Wyoming communities this past weekend when they opened their hearts, and their pocketbooks, to help a young family going through tough times.
Three-year-old Lily Phillips was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in August of this year. According to the American Cancer Society, ALL accounts for around three out of four leukemias diagnosed in children and teens. It is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 4. The disease can affect the blood, bone marrow and white blood cells that normally fight infection. Though it has a high rate of recovery, it won’t come without a tremendous cost to the Phillips family.
Three kindhearted ladies from Deaver — Vana Camp, Vicki Sorenson and Coleen Wagner — spearheaded a fundraiser held on Saturday at the community center in Deaver to help the family with their already mounting medical expenses, raising, at last count, about $25,000 in the process, plus at least another $10,000 that was deposited directly into special bank accounts set up for the family at the Bank of Lovell and the Bank of Powell. According to Sorenson the donations continue to roll in and are “well beyond what was expected.”
The fundraiser was well attended by more than 300 people from Deaver and surrounding communities, who generously participated in a live dessert auction, where pies went for more than $200 apiece, and a silent auction where a bronze sculpture donated by local caster Clay Ward sold for $1,000.
Sorenson said at least 100 people had already showed up by the time the event started at 5 p.m.
“I’m not usually a nervous type of person,” said Sorenson, “but when that many showed up that early and there was already a big line forming outside, I was concerned that we wouldn’t have enough chairs for them all.”
Sorenson said many who made contributions didn’t wish to leave their names. Most just wanted to help little Lily and her family deal with the financial repercussions of such a serious health condition.
Though sure to be a rough road to recovery, Chelsea Phillips expressed that it was comforting to know the family has the support of their small community.
“It was very overwhelming to see so many people there at the fundraiser,” said Phillips. “We are so grateful for the community we live in and the continued support and prayers we are receiving from our community.”
By Patti Carpenter