Food Benefit: Planned to help two Saluda students fighting cancer

Published 1:52 pm Monday, October 3, 2016



Written by Carol Lynn Jackson

Photos submitted

Jackson was diagnosed at 18 months of age when his mother noticed he was walking strange-               ly, and after examinations, doctors found a large lesion on his femur bone amassing to 50 percent of its length.

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Now 6, Jackson, a Saluda School kindergartener, suffers from Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH). His mother, Stella Barnett, said, “The beginning of this year, my son had his third relapse of LCH. Even though I had taken him for scans the previous year, the appropriate tests were not ordered earlier. Jackson had a total of seven bone lesions and he was starting his third round of chemo. We were facing the emotional strain, worry, port surgeries, nausea, and absence from school. I was also trying to figure out how to pay his insurance and out-of-pocket expenses while working less in order to take my son to chemo.

“A fellow mother in Saluda changed my outlook on our situation when she started a GoFundMe page for Jackson’s medical bills. The outpouring of support changed our lives. My friends put on a yard sale, my customers at the Purple Onion Cafe bought Jackson gifts and donated, loved ones and strangers donated. And now my friends at Green River Brew Depot and Captain Mike Ryan of Saluda and Charleston are putting on this fundraiser. How lucky we are. This community’s love is unbelievable and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Another Saluda mom, Chris Brink, learned this year that her 13-year-old Polk County Middle School daughter has Leukemia.

“In late May of this year, Alex began running a low-grade fever, around 99 degrees but continuously for close to 3 weeks,” Chris said. “Instantly it spiked to 103.5 so we went to the ER. After examination, we were told she had strep throat and were given medicine and went home. Alex couldn’t keep one bit of that medicine down so we went back and were told she had both types of Influenza: A and B. Yet she had no flu symptoms other than fever — no sore throat no achy body. After I requested deeper examination through blood work, Alex learned she would be battling Leukemia. She is undergoing now a three-year chemotherapy treatment program.”  

Alex, too, has a GoFundMe fundraising drive to help cut the enormous costs and toll that caring for children with cancer has on the whole family. Medicaid, Obamacare and NC Health Choice provide some coverage for both these families, who both work in the local food business, but they are literally within cents of earning “too much money” and can lose everything at any moment.

On October 15, a cancer benefit for both Jackson and Alex is being thrown at the Green River Brew Depot in Saluda, N.C. featuring a Low Country boil, live music, raffles and a silent auction. Captain Mike Ryan of Saluda by the Sea Sailing Adventures will bring up fresh Low Country shrimp and local farmers will donate sausage, corn and potatoes for a tasty plateful per ticket to delight event patrons. Every plate includes a free beverage from the Depot and a raffle ticket for a chance to win many cool prizes donated from the local community. Raffle and silent auction are available to anyone who stops in on October 15 to support these two young Polk County students. Jackson and Alex get to split the proceeds in half to assist in their battle for treatments and full recovery.

Currently the event is planned throughout the afternoon into early evening. A solid timeframe, not available at press time, is now available online, along with ticket price at, or call 828-808-2600.

To get to know these two young people better and join them on their brave journey, visit their pages at Jackson’s campaign is “Jackson’s Medical Bills” and Alex’s is “WhileAlexFights.”