Finding Cures. Saving Children

Support the Topeka St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway campaign

By Sue Baldani

More than fifteen years after losing his young son Daegan to acute myeloid leukemia, Lance, from Kansas, is still a strong supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. After undergoing a failed bone marrow transplant procedure, Daegan was transferred to St. Jude, and thanks to an experimental treatment, he was given a precious extra year of life.

“A year is not a long time, except when you measure a child’s life at 4 ½ years; a year is a fourth of their life,” says Lance. “Up until the very end, it was a pretty good quality of life.”

During this time, the little boy with the infectious personality that captured people’s hearts was able to do some of the activities he enjoyed most. Daegan loved Thomas the Train, and he was able to take a ride on Thomas. He also wanted, among other things, to go up in a helicopter and ride on a golf cart, and he was able to do it all.

While on the St. Jude campus in Memphis, Lance remembers seeing all the research buildings. “Their lights were on at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning. They literally don’t stop. If they can do that, then I can do whatever I can do.

“[St. Jude] shares [protocols and treatments] with everybody, and it’s not just cancer,” says Lance. “They’re doing research on a lot of different things.” He can’t stress enough that even though the hospital is located in Memphis, by donating, you’re helping people in your local community as well.

For St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to be able to continue helping more children and their families, it’s critical to garner financial support. One way it does this is through its St. Jude Dream Home campaign. For a $100.00 ticket, participants in Topeka have a chance to win the St. Jude Dream Home in the Aquarian Acres neighborhood, as well as other prizes. In its fourth year in Topeka, the goal is to collectively raise $2.8 million by the time it wraps up in June.

Caroline and Kevin Gray, owners of Custom Wood Products, have been involved with the St. Jude Dream Home campaign every year in Topeka and for three years in Wichita.

“We’ve donated all of the cabinets for the kitchen, the bathrooms, laundry room, basement bar – anything that is interior, cabinet wise,” says Caroline. “It’s always great to be a part of something that is bigger than you.

“And I love the aspect that it brings competitors together. That’s really awesome! If an electrician can’t afford all the labor and all the product, maybe he’ll work with another electrician and one will do the product and one will do the labor.”

To support St. Jude in its mission, go to See other states that are participating as well.

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