Cover photo courtesy of Metro Newspaper Service
WILL PINKSTON | The Sun
Abby Mott (center), 9, and her mother, Stacey Orr, both of Murray, stand with WPSD-TV news anchor Mike Mallory during filming of the final drawing in the 2013 St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway on Aug. 18 in Paducah. The start-up fundraising organization called Murray Miracles helps raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and sponsors local Murray children like Mott.
Despite only being 9 years old, Abby Mott has been through quite a lot in her young life.
Diagnosed with a stage 4 Wilms tumor — a rare, pediatric kidney cancer — only three years ago, Abby and her family from Murray were facing a difficult prognosis, seeking treatment at the renowned St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
Now in remission but still receiving occasional checkups and treatments for weakened bones resulting from therapy, Abby and her mother, Stacey Orr, are doing everything they can to give back to the medical center that did so much for them, including sharing their story with as many people as possible.
In fact, people might have noticed Abby’s recent cameo in the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway televised on WPSD-TV.
“It was really fun, I think I was on TV maybe four or five times,” Abby said after the final scenes were filmed.
Orr added: “We’re just grateful that there are opportunities like this to give us a chance to contribute and help raise money for St. Jude’s.”
And contributions are key for a medical center that surpasses $1.8 million in daily operating costs, the majority of which is funded through public donations. Knowing how important it is to raise money, a group of Murray residents have teamed in support of local St. Jude’s patients like Abby to bring in whatever they can to fund the heartfelt mission.
The St. Jude Memphis Marathon team, Murray Miracles — about a dozen Calloway County-area fundraising competitors — joined under the one team banner to pool resources and donate at the yearly event. The Murray Miracles team raised $46,000 last year, and hope to eclipse that mark this year.
Mark English, Calloway County Middle School assistant principal and a Murray Miracles member, said every team member has a personal connection to St. Jude’s at some level, and now as the team hosts area fundraisers in honor of the children in the county currently undergoing treatment, it brings the mission home.
“This is something that’s pretty near and dear to our hearts,” English said. “It’s important for us to give back to the community, and help these kids.”
To help get the group off the ground level, Murray Miracles sponsored a 5k run and a successful golf scramble at the Murray Country Club in September last year that brought in nearly $10,000. English said the tournament was received so well, the group will host another golf scramble on Oct. 18 at the country club.
At the annual St. Jude Hero’s Dinner, the group finished fifth in fundraising last year, and hope that community participation will help boost donations through the roof.
“There’s always individuals from western Kentucky that we meet in Memphis (for the run),” English said. “How gratifying would it be to have a small community in western Kentucky be one of those groups that raise $100,000! Our group is halfway there but we’re still small and we’re trying to get bigger each year.”
Even though the group still considers itself a start-up, Murray Miracles has made an impact in the lives of families like Abby and her mother. Orr said the group goes beyond providing financial backing to the medical center, but has also become a support group when times become rough.
“They really try to help families when they first get that diagnosis,” Orr said. “They say, ‘Come on, we’re your family too and we’ll be there with you through it all.’ It’s about the little things, even if you just need somebody to talk to, they’re there.”
Any donations, golf tournament hole sponsorships or golf tournament entry fees can be directly mailed to P.O. Box 1461, Murray, KY, 42071. Tournament entries should include names and contact information, and all checks should be made payable to St. Jude.
Contact Will Pinkston, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676 or follow @WCPinkston on Twitter.