Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Thursday, October 14, 2004

In Memory of Jordan and Kyra: Trying to Make a Difference

Last Thursday, after the kids got out of school, we made the the 450 mile drive from San Diego to beautiful Aptos on the Monterey Bay in northern California, just a few miles south of Santa Cruz where Kyra's family lives now.

Kyra's father Peter's brother, David Pillsbury, formerly of American Golf and Nike and currently working for the PGA tour, teamed up with the father of another boy, Jordan Stuart, also from northern California, to organize an annual golf tournament for the purpose of raising funds to advance pediatric brain tumor research and to support the families of children with catastrophic diseases. They named their organization the The Jordan and Kyra Foundation.

Last year, we decided to attend with the boys for the first time, we'd made our arrangements and reservations about a month before Steven was diagnosed, the tournament took place in mid-October.

The tournament was scheduled to take place at the end of Steven's first week of radiation. Doug and Sean were planning to drive up from San Diego and attend, but after evaluating the logistics and expense of Steven and I trying to fly out after his radiation on Friday and returning in time on Monday again for radiation, we decided to stay in Memphis.

When the Jordan and Kyra Foundation most generously offered to help us with our travel expenses so we could be there for the event, we got Steven's radiation appointments scheduled so he could have the first one in the morning on Friday and the last one in the afternoon on Monday and we flew out.

They couldn't have ordered up better weather if they'd tried, it was warm, clear, and beautiful. We flew back to the west coast, until we saw the ocean from the plane, we hadn't even realized the depth of our homesickness, really, it was something that we needed to put in the back of our minds in order to be able to survive in Memphis.

We enjoyed our weekend together as a family with lumps in our throats the entire time, knowing that early Monday morning we'd be separated again and Memphis-bound.

It was a pleasure to return this year under more relaxed circumstances. The golf tournament was on Friday, with a banquet following in the evening.

Kyra's uncle David was more or less the master of ceremonies. David is also the person who most kindly arranged for Steven to meet Tiger Woods last December.

Doug got up and spoke emotionally and eloquently about Steven and how recent advances in brain tumor research have given him a better chance of survival.

Of the four families we shared our kitchen with at the Ronald McDonald House in Memphis, Byron, a 12-year old boy diagnosed with a brain tumor a month after Steven, died in April. Another boy, Garrett, just turned 15, suffered a relapse of his brain tumor in May and is now in hospice with weeks or less to live.

Pediatric brain tumors are the number one cause of death from cancer in children today. Although there are more cases of leukemia diagnosed each year, recent advances in the treatment of leukemia have greatly reduced the mortality rate.

The Jordan and Kyra Foundation and other like organizations are raising funds to help researchers find a cure so that kids like these can be saved.

And maybe, just maybe, one day we'll be able to say that Jordan and Kyra, though their lives here on earth were far too short, were able to make a big difference.

- Kathleen


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