‘Dustin’ benefit Sunday

BBQ, sports items to raise funds for cancer patient

What promises to be one of the largest fund raisers ever in Rockdale is set Sunday at the KC Hall for 3-year-old Dustin Pickel.

It features a barbecue lunch beginning at 11 a.m. and a massive auction at 1 p. m., offering everything from vacations to handmade furniture to sports memorabilia autographed by Texas icons.

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.

VACATION—She said one item donated to the auction has an estimated value of more than $7,000.

Miller and Kathie Bassler have donated a vacation getaway for eight at their Villa de Laguna home on the harbor in Port Mansfield. It includes fishing on a 24-foot Shallow Sport boat, all meals, guide service and three nights lodging.

AUCTION—Scores of items have been added to the auction including:

Barbeque pit on trailer with working area, Bistro table and two chairs, signed and framed Benjamin Knox print, Yeti cooler, two children’s wooden rockers and matching table.

Also, a John Shoemake-carved Santa, lake vacation, beach vaca- tion, helicopter ride, round of golf for four, wooden glider, Adirondack chair and foot stool.

Also, antique carousel horse, child’s picnic table, large picnic table, gift cards, deer feeder with sack of deer corn, wooden rockers.

Also, Savage hunting rifle with scope, baked goods, arts and craft items, beef briskets, wooden trash cans, sports collectibles, gift baskets, wreaths.

AUTOGRAPHED—A football autographed by Texas legend Earl Campbell has joined the list of signed items up for auction.

Those include footballs signed by Houston Texans Coach Gary Kubiak, Texas Tech Red Raider Coach Kliff Kingsbury, California Golden Bears Coach Sonny Dykes and Baylor Coach Art Briles.

An autographed baseball signed by living Texas legend Nolan Ryan will also be auctioned.

Also on the list are butchered processed steer (1,200 to 1,300 pounds of meat) and a $100 gift certificate to Cooper’s Barbecue in Llano.

BEEF­— In a separate fundraiser, also to benefit Dustin, Rockdale native Mike Speer, now a longtime resident of Marquez, has donated two sides of processed beef—approximately 450 pounds each—to be awarded in a fundraising 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.

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

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

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, 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 Gaye 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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