‘Dustin’ benefit getting bigger

BBQ, huge auction, more on tap Aug. 11

Dustin Pickel Dustin Pickel A benefit for a three-year-old who has bravely battled a horrific form of cancer for more than a year is growing in scope almost daily.

The Dustin Pickel benefit is set for Aug. 11 at the KC Hall and includes a barbecue sale, an auction and a fund raiser for a side of processed beef.

Dustin, son of Jeff and Kelly (Shoemake) Pickel and the grandson of former Rockdale Mayor John Shoemake, and wife Sharon, has endured a large malignant tumor, chemotherapy, had his right kidney removed, a stem cell harvest, high blood pressure, daily injections, a stroke, a relapse of his cancer causing a blood clot on his brain, surgical removal of that blood clot and had a port placed in his head to allow radioactive dyes to be injected into the fluid around his brain.

“The majority of Dustin’s treatments are at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City,” Gaye Bland, spokesperson for St. John’s United Methodist Church, which is sponsoring the event, said.

“Of course this requires a lot of flights back and forth between Texas and New York,” Bland said.

BBQ, AUCTION—The barbecue lunch, with all the trimmings, begins at 11 a.m. Aug. 11 at the KC Hall, dine in or take out.

Tickets are $10 and are available at The Reporter, which is also selling “Team Dustin” T-shirts.

The live auction begins around 1 p.m. Items already donated include:

Week’s vacation at Lake Conroe, 5-day vacation at Padre Island, picnic table, children’s picnic table, two outdoor rockers, Adirondack chair and foot stool, wooden glider, Yeti cooler and a helicopter ride.

Many more items are expected to be donated.

BEEF—Rockdale native Mike Speer, now a longtime resident of Marquez, h as d onate t wo s ides of processed beef—approximately 450 pounds each—to be awarded in a fund-raising drawing.

The beef is to be picked up at Brother’s Meat Processing in Jewett following the drawing.

Tickets for the drawing are $20 each or six for $100 and are available at The Reporter or Miller Starnes Chevrolet-Buick.

Checks should be made payable to St. John’s United Methodist Church or to “Team Dustin.”

MORE SUPPORT—There are other ways to support the effort.

An account has been established at Citizens National Bank in the name of “St. John’s UMC—Team Dustin.”

Donations may also be made through the website www.You-, which accepts PayPal.

Mail-in donations are accepted in care of Denise Starnes, 121 Champions Drive, Rockdale, TX 76567.

To donate to the auction, contact Bland at 512-446-2693.

DIAGNOSIS—In June, 2012, seven weeks after his second birthday, tests initially revealed Dustin to be severely anemic.

A visit to a hematologist revealed he had a malignant mass growing in his abdomen next to a kidney and he was admitted to Dell Children’s Hospital.

During chemo treatment a biopsy revealed the mass was Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, an aggressive type of malignant tumor.

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