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When Hope Cupit’s daughter, Bendera, had her 13th birthday, she had something in mind other than presents.
The Forest teen turned her birthday party into a fundraising event for a little girl named Hannah Johnson. Johnson, a student at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, is fighting leukemia. The type of leukemia she has responds well to treatment, but it’s expensive. Her family has insurance, but their out-of-pocket expenses are cheap.
Cupit works for the Southeast Rural Assistance Program. It helps low income rural people who have had failed pumps on their wells or failed septic systems. Cupit said there are some places that have no plumbing at all.
She set up a Facebook page for her organization and in the process discovered one for Hannah Johnson. It’s called Hugs for Hannah - Prayer Group. Hannah is a student at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School who was diagnosed with leukemia. Her type of leukemia has a high cure rate. Her treatment required weekly trips to the University of Virginia each week for chemotherapy. This is expensive and, although the family has insurance, it doesn’t cover everything. Furthermore, Hannah’s mother had to quit her job in order to care for the girl, decreasing the family’s income.
Cupit joined the group as a Facebook friend and talked to her children about it. It turned out that her daughter, Bendera, a Forest Middle School student, already had heard of Hannah.
When it came time for Bendera’s 13th birthday, she talked to her mother and told her that she wanted to use the day to do something for Hannah. Bendera Cupit turned her day into a fundraiser. She invited 50 people and, instead of bringing presents for her, they were to help fill up a collection bucket. She collected a total of $145.
Hope Cupit notes that various Forest businesses have had collection jars out for Hannah for some time and there is an account for her at Wachovia Bank.
The girl has been making positive progress. In her latest post to the Facebook page, Suzzane Johnson, Hannah’s mother wrote:
“God has been so faithful to us this weekend! On a very difficult day for Hannah, with lots of chemotherapy, it could not have gone better! So the prayers made such a significant difference in her outcome!
“We hope that this will be our last admittance to the hospital, unless something develops requiring critical care. So what a relief it is to be on the other side of a challenging part of this phase. We will still be going up for the next three Fridays for treatments, she’ll be getting another spinal this Friday as well, but then in mid- September we should be on maintenance! Going up twice a month for spinals and a chemo pill at night, but what a relief from weekly trips to UVA. It was bitter/sweet leaving the hospital, since we have developed such a relationship with so many of the nurses there -- they all love seeing Hannah come through. I told them we’d still have to come by and say ‘hi’ on our visits to clinic — great to be so loved, in a place that can be stressful and exhausting.
“Thank you for your priceless prayers and concern for Hannah. It is a treasure to our family in the midst of this cancer journey.”