Editor's note: Light One Candle is an annual series sponsored by the Mail Tribune that focuses on an individual, group or agency that could use a helping hand during the holiday season. Once that need is filled, donations may be distributed to others in need. The series continues daily until Dec. 23.
Gas money, art supplies and athletic equipment would help this family of five face a difficult holiday season with a little more cheer.
Parents Gary and Cindy and their three children, Dylan, 13, Kim, 9, and Katie, 7, have lived through myriad challenges. In 2004 the family discovered Gary had throat cancer. Gary powered through a grueling series of chemo and radiation treatments. But he still needed to have a life-changing surgery.
Gary and his family said they didn't realize the operation would leave him with a hole in this throat, and unable to talk to his family for the past 18 months.
While his children are grateful they can see their father, they are unable to communicate with him normally and are terrified they will not get the chance to talk to him again. Daughter Kim hates to leave Dad's side for fear it will be the last time.
Doctors told the family that Gary probably would not make it past December 2006. Here we are in 2011, and Gary is still fighting. He has vowed not to give up and neither will his family.
Cindy is Gary's constant caretaker, always by his side. But she was rushed to the hospital for a hernia which added yet another bill to the list.
Gary and Cindy have been selling many items from their home to help pay medical bills, the energy bill to keep the family warm, and to make ends meet. It hasn't been enough. And the family could not pay its rent last month.
In spite of their struggles, family members are filled with love for each other as they prioritize their activities in ways that keep them close to one another. For instance, they put puzzles together rather than watching TV in the evenings.
Seven-year-old Katie would like a "glitter girly winter coat," size youth XL, boots women size 6, a bike and a helmet, as well as art supplies and activity coloring books.
Kim, 9, would like a leather coat, women size 9 shoes, XL girls shirts, a bike with helmet, and art supplies and activity coloring books.
Dylan, 13, would like running gear in sizes XL shirts, 28 waist, and 101/2; shoes. He likes Axe products and basketball.
Gary and Cindy would appreciate money for rent, gas cards and a queen-sized comforter.
If you can help, contact the Kids Unlimited main office at 541-774-3900.
Note: Once each family/person featured in the Light One Candle series has had their needs met, any additional donations will be given to others in need within the agency's client list.