A Hannibal family is facing the type of frightening situation all families hope to never experience — a child with a debilitating disease.
And still they have enough heart to think of others.
Brian and Carrie Hoyt’s 5-year-old son, Damon, began experiencing a series of fevers this past summer. According to Damon’s mother, the family doctor diagnosed their cause as stemming from a viral infection that would eventually cure itself.
“One day, not long after that, Damon began having a very painful headache,” said Kim Crouse, Damon’s aunt. “He then lost sensation in both his arm and his leg. That’s when the family called the ambulance.”
Once Damon had been transported to the hospital, doctors determined he was afflicted with leukemia. The boy is presently a patient at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital undergoing treatment.
Carrie Hoyt said she’s been there every day and as such she’s had to juggle not only her life, but also the lives of her family. The Hoyts have three other children.
“Jacob is 19, Gabriel is 10 and Heaven, my daughter, is 8 years old,” Hoyt said by phone from her son’s hospital bedside.
She said she felt lucky that while they’re going through this ordeal, her parents, Eileen and Robert Bulluck, relocated from North Carolina to live in her house and care for the two minor children.
“At first (the children) were with my cousin, Gracia, for about a month, until about a week ago,” Hoyt said. “Now they’re with their grandparents.”
Both of Damon’s parents work. Brian Hoyt works at Precision Paint, he and his wife Carrie’s painting business. Carrie Hoyt works as a manager at Mavis Tire in Fulton. Both have missed quite a few days on the job since Damon was admitted to the hospital over a month ago.
In order to make ends meet, a gofundme page has been established, and a benefit dinner scheduled.
But this is where the situation becomes unique.
The Hoyts, while experiencing this situation, are actually taking the time to think of others.
“We are OK right now, financially,” Carrie Hoyt said. “But that could easily change in a matter of weeks, as we understand we could be here at least five months. We’re lucky we have each other to depend on. Some people are not so lucky.”
Hoyt said it’s not that long ago she remembers being a single mom with three kids. She couldn’t imagine what she would do if she had to go through this alone. And she’s seen children at the hospital whose parent(s) hardly ever come to visit because they have to work.
“There was a little girl here who is 3 years old and her mother was never here,” she said. “She had to work and had other children at home and probably didn’t have the financial ability or any work-assisted funding or anything else to support her. So here is her baby in a cancer ward for three weeks all alone. There is just so much need here … and we see it.”
Which is why the Hoyts, despite their own eventual need, have pledged whatever money is donated or raised by the benefit will go to support their immediate needs, but anything extra will be donated to the hospital for the care of those children whose families cannot provide it.
“Look, if we raise $3,000, that will pay our mortgage for three months,” Hoyt said. “But if we raise more than that we intend to share that money with those less fortunate than ourselves.”
Hoyt also said they plan to do a fundraiser each year — not just this year.
“We don’t know right now how much need we’re going to able to fill,” she said. “But I know what it is to suffer and I don’t want that for others if I can help it.”
Hoyt said she was grateful to the Hastings VFW at 13 County Route 45 for donating their space for the benefit on Oct. 9 from 1-6 p.m.
Pre-sale tickets cost $12, and tickets are $15 at the door. The menu includes chicken, salt potatoes, baked beans, pasta salad, and water.
There will also be raffle baskets, a 50-50 raffle, a bake sale, door prizes, and a DJ for music.
“If it takes me losing my house to save my child, I don’t care,” said Hoyt, fighting back the tears, her voice quivering as she spoke. “This is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.”
Her fear and frustration came through in the following excerpt from a recent Facebook post.
“I will be forever changed. I will never look at anyone in my life the same, and no one should suffer like this. It isn’t fair, it isn’t right ... but here I am anyway. I just fight next to him to teach him how to fight. I must be strong so he has my strength to hold him up.”
For tickets or more information to the Oct. 9 benefit, call Kim Crouse at 315-591-5684, or Charles Hoyt at 315-602-6893.
Those interested in donating may visit https://gofund.me/87019db9 or log on to https://www.facebook.com/events/benefit-for-our-little-leukemi/217589910293378/.