Foundation to aid cancer victims forming in memory of Star
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

June 30, 2005 - Star Nuckolls' spirit will continue to shine in years to come thanks to a foundation established as a memorial to the the little girl with a big reach.

Although the specifics are still in the works and the official name still pending, the basic plan has been set. The foundation, tentatively called the Shining Star Foundation, is designed to assist Hopkins County families who have a family member suffering from cancer with monetary, spiritual and daily needs. The name Wish Upon a Star has also been suggested.

Assistance will be limited to Hopkins County families dealing with cancer, whether it be an adult or child victim. Monetary and other awards will be determined through a grant process, through which families meeting standards established in the bylaws would be eligible to fill out applications.

The idea was born several months ago from the outpouring of love and support the community showered upon Star and her parents, Kari and Steve Nuckolls, younger sister Saylor, and extended family members.

Star was diagnosed in June 2004 at age 4 with a cancerous Wilms tumor which took her life on Feb. 7. During that time, the Nuckolls family not only experienced the community's caring in the form of donated funds from events held in their honor, but also spiritually from a special prayer service which was attended by hundreds, and guidance and advisement from not only their pastor but also those of other churches.

People of every socioeconomic, spiritual and cultural status — often individuals the Nuckolls did not know — helped the family with everything from medical costs to things as simple as mowing the lawn while Star was being treated at M.D. Anderson hospital in Houston, dropping off a dish of food, or a prayer and words of encouragement, according to Kari.

"After Star was diagnosed, throughout the whole time, we received so much support from family and friends, and the community," Kari said. "We want everyone in our situation to feel this love and we decided to do something. ... There are a lot of families dealing with cancer; we'd like to show them the love I was shown.

"I didn't ever want Star to be forgotten. This way her legacy will live on."

Kari had only to mention that she wanted to do something to honor Star and to help other families, and the plans began falling into place for a nonprofit foundation name in Star's honor.

"I'm really excited. I didn't expect it to fall into place like this. I put it out that I wanted to do something. So many people have contacted me to say they want to do something.'

She first spoke with Dr. Sherri Drayer, whose Jordan's Place Pediatrics is named after her nephew, Jordan, who also died of cancer several years ago. Kari explained her desire to honor her daughter and help others, and the pediatrician was on board. Attorney Cyndi Braddy then approached Star's mother one day, offering her services in Kari's endeavor.

Dr. M. LaVelle Hendricks, pastor at East Caney Baptist, often acted as spiritual advisor for the Nuckolls during and immediately following Star's battle. Upon learning the idea, he agreed to utilize his training as a pastor and in psychology to "help with the spiritual aspect" of the foundation services.

John Klein, who helped organize a Biker Run and Bike Rally benefit in October for cancer patient Forrest Stewart, who died in December, indicated that he, too, would be willing to help.

All four now serve on the foundation board, as does Dena Stuckey, wife of Chris Stuckey, who died in February at the age of 29 after an 11-month battle with a malignant brain tumor.

After determining that a non-profit foundation would be established in Star's name to benefit other Hopkins County cancer patients and families, the question of how to fund it was raised.

But not to worry. Members of Spokes of Hopes, the local chapter of Christian Motorcycle Association, indicated that the Star Foundation was just the project they had been looking for to become involved with for some time. Thus the idea for a motorcycle rally, named in memory of Forrest Stewart, was established to raise money to support the foundation.

"We're working on that," Kari said. "It's Sept. 10 and kicks off the Fall Festival. They can register on Star's Web site [www.myshiningstar.info].

"They tell me bikers have big hearts," she added. "We hope the community will come out and support it. The Christian Motorcycle group said they have been waiting the last few years for something like this. It was a prayer answered. You can really see God leading this. I think it was meant to be."

Although planning for the first fundraiser is still being completed, plans are already in the works for a New Year's event bearing Chris Stuckey's name.

And there are still plenty of opportunities and ways in which individuals can help make the Star foundation and its fundraisers successful.

"We would love all the help we can get to pull this off," Kari said.

Anyone interested in more information about the foundation or helping can contact Kari Nuckolls at 903-438-2423 or by sending an e-mail to her at karinuckolls@yahoo.com. Monetary donations to the Star foundation may be sent City National Bank in care of Ricky Reynolds, who also volunteered to handle the finances for the foundation. For more informaton about the Forrest Stewart memorial motorcycle rally, contact John Klein at 903-348-5216 or 903-885-9425 or Chris Hill at 903-348-2890.

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