Benefit set Saturday for North Hopkins girl, 8, battling leukemia

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Feb. 29, 2008 - Raylee Box will begin her second round of chemotherapy next week. If her immune system is improved, she could soon return home for a few days, the first time the North Hopkins elementary student has had the chance to do so in about a month.

Raylee is the 8-year-old daughter of Ronda and Darrel Box, both of Sulphur Springs, sister of 10-year-old-North Hopkins fourth grader Ragan Box, and a fourth-generation Hopkins County resident. She was recently diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, the cancer of the blood-forming tissue within bone marrow and the second most common form of leukemia in children.

She has remained in Medical City Hospital in Dallas since the end of January, and in addition to chemotherapy has had blood and and platelet transfusions and replacements, and participated in clinical trials.

While Raylee has medical insurance, it does not cover all costs associated with the treatment, nor travel expenses and the hours of work her parents miss to be at the hospital with their daughter, according to her aunt, Pam Aaron.

Raylee's family has expressed appreciation for the support they've received in the form of letters, calls and money donated to help them out, especially the many prayers offered up for Raylee.

So far a blood drive and fund-raisers have been held, and donations are still being accepted in accounts set up for Raylee Box at Alliance Bank and City National Bank as well as in collection jars in stores and businesses throughout the city and county. The 8-year-old also has what appears to be at least a hundred letters and cards up around her hospital room which have given Raylee and her parents encouragement over the last month, and welcomes more. Cards or letters of encouragement may be mailed to Raylee Box, c/o Medical City of Dallas, Building A, 12th floor, South Tower, Room 1210, 7777 Forest Lane, Dallas TX 75230.

With the next round of therapy starting Monday and expected to last about 10 days, the family asks for continued prayers.

Raylee's family and friends, in an effort to help out with expenses, have scheduled another fundraiser Saturday at 10 a.m. at VF Outlet Mall.

The benefit will include a bake sale, selling yard signs and decals, and offering chances to win large prizes in two raffles. Monetary donations will also be accepted, with all funds going to the Raylee Box medical fund.

Yard signs painted pink or red will be available Saturday for $15 each. Also, Jeremy Ferrill of J+K Designs is providing hot pink window decals with white dots and "RAYLEE" in white letters. The decals will be available for $5 each Saturday.

Also available Saturday for $5 each will be tickets for a quarter horse raffle, as well as 600 pounds of beef.

Ricky Childers of Emory is donating the sorrel stallion Starmark Girl, born on May 21, 2006, and registered with the American Quarter Horse Association. The stallion's markings include a "star, snip, left hind pattern white and right hind sock."

One of Raylee's grandfathers, Ronny McFarlin, is donating the 600 pounds of beef that is being raffled.

Raylee's family members can be contacted for more information. Call 903-348-0421 for Lou Box or 903-335-1791 for Pam Aaron.

Another benefit in Raylee's honor is also being hosted Saturday evening by Girl Scout Troop 28, of which Raylee was a member, and North Hopkins High School's Beta Club.

Scouts are offering a chili supper from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in North Hopkins school cafeteria for a $5 donation. NHHS Beta Club will hold a cake walk for 50 cents per turn during the supper. A silent auction will also be held.

For information about the chili supper, contact Scout leader Donna Brown at 903-366-1803 or send her an e-mail at dbrown@northhopkins.net.

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