Local fundraisers help with bills
According to Matt Lewis, his son Jayden Lewis is a typical 14-year-old. Jayden is a freshman at Billings West High School, with deep roots in the Lovell area.
Like many teens, he has a lot of exciting things going on in his young life. He just obtained his driver’s permit and is looking forward to being able to drive on his 15th birthday in May, the legal age for young drivers in Montana. He loves to hunt and fish and is looking forward to seeing a 5 x 7 trophy buck mounted that he harvested last hunting season on Heart Mountain. He loves to snowboard, snowmobile and play video games in his spare time. His favorite team sport is football, and he’s on the freshman team at his school.
Though quiet on the outside, Jayden’s spirit is filled with hopes and dreams, including the dream of playing college football someday. Those dreams where shattered in early February after a pain in his pelvic area led to a diagnosis of osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer. Already, the fast-growing cancer has spread from Jayden’s pelvic area to his spine and his battle against the potentially deadly disease is in full swing.
“He’s a very self-disciplined kid and it shows in his school work and everything he does. He’s a fighter and he has a good mindset right now,” Matt said. “He believes that, though his dream is to play college football, God is giving him a different fight right now and he’s putting all of his energy into that fight. Already, he’s doing extremely well and is handling his chemo treatments better than expected.”
Jayden completed his first two days of chemotherapy in Salt Lake City immediately after his diagnosis in early February. He’s in Utah again this week for another dose. Six sets of 10 shots prescribed in conjunction with his chemotherapy treatments are not paid for under the family’s health insurance policy. Unfortunately, each set of shots costs $5,211. His chemotherapy will take place every five weeks. Once his chemotherapy treatments are complete, Jayden will undergo surgery to remove what’s left of the cancerous growth. The surgery is expected to increase his chance of survival from 10 percent to 70 percent. The shots alone are expected to cost around $31,000.
“And that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Jayden’s grandfather Nick Lewis. “I don’t know how we’d do this without the generous support we are already receiving from the community.”
Several fundraisers are planned to help pay for the shots and for any other medical costs not covered by insurance. A dinner and live auction to be held at the Lovell Community Center on Saturday, March 30, will begin at 6 p.m. with a brisket dinner cooked by Bob Acton of Hog Heaven. The cost of the dinner is $20 and includes entry for a special door prize.
A live auction will follow the dinner with “a little something for everyone,” said Nick Lewis, one of the event’s main organizers.
Some of the items up for bid include athletic jerseys autographed by popular Wyoming athletes Josh Allen and Larry Nance, University of Wyoming Border War football tickets plus a two-night hotel stay, a weekend at High Country Lodge in the Big Horn Mountains, a Treager Grill, an AR-15 custom rifle, handmade quilts from the loving hands at the North Big Horn Senior Citizens Center, a Fender guitar, an elk antler chandelier and even a mini-Aussie pup. The list of auction items continues to grow daily and already contains more than 40 items.
The event will also include live music. Contact Nick Lewis at 307-272-3094 or Jeff Lewis at 307-254-0729 to purchase tickets or to donate items to the auction.
A special raffle is also underway for a full day bird hunt on the Rael Bird Farm in Cowley. The hunt is for six hunters (two must be youth), with no limit on birds. Lunch is provided during the hunt, which must take place between Oct. 1, 2019, and March 1, 2020. Tickets are $50 apiece. The winning ticket will be drawn on May 1. For more information or to purchase a ticket contact Andrea Mehling at 307-254-0673 or Nick or Jeff Lewis.
A special account has been set up at First Bank located at 284 East Main Street in Lovell. A GoFundMe account has also been set up online in Jayden’s name.
All proceeds from the fundraisers and direct donations will help pay for Jayden’s medical expenses during what will no doubt be one of the biggest challenges of his life.
“We’ve already received so many calls and so much support,” said Matt Lewis. “Though I haven’t been able to return all of the calls, I want everyone to know we are so grateful for your support and prayers.”
Jayden is the grandson of Nick and Georgette Lewis of Lovell. His father Matt and uncle Jeff Lewis grew up in Lovell and own and operate High Country Construction, a company that does extensive work in the Lovell area.
By Patti Carpenter