12-Year-Old Wetumpka Boy Battles Incurable Disease; Community Offers Support

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By Jessica Gertler

A 12-year-old Wetumpka boy has been diagnosed with a rare, incurable disease that's meant he's been in and out of the hospital. But his family says after months of prayer, he may have found a match to get a bone marrow transplant in Minnesota. 

Only 32 children in the United States are born with Faconi Anemia each year. Dawson Parker was one of those children. He's faced many obstacles, and his fight to live is far from over.

In the far right corner in this Edgewood Academy classroom sits Dawson Parker. Like any other 12-year-old boy, he loves being outside, flying model airplanes and playing baseball.

"You get to hit. It's just fun," Dawson says when he talks about baseball.

But what you wouldn't know is that Dawson is battling a genetic disease that effects the blood and immune system.

"We had heavy hearts, because this was a life threatening disease for our son," says Penni Parker, Dawson's mother.

Last year, just a day after he threw the opening pitch, Dawson took a turn for the worse.

"He just basically got an infection in his jaw, and we knew once he got an infection he would be closer to getting a marrow transplant," Penni Parker says.

Since then, Dawson has been in and out of the hospital. It was the first time Dawson's dad felt as if he couldn't protect his son.

"Other parents would say you know your kid is normal," says Dawson's father Bob Parker. "You don't have to worry about nothing, but we just have to adjust."

In July, Dawson found out he qualified for a bone marrow transplant, and after months of waiting, his wish may come true.

"We just know who he is. We just know he is a 26-year-old from the U.S.," says Penni Parker.

On Monday, the Parkers will find out if it's a match, pack their bags for a children's hospital in Minnesota, and live there for the next five months while Dawson undergoes numerous surgeries, and chemotherapy.

"The quote they gave us was some where around $500,000 for the transplant," she says.

But the community isn't letting the family deal with these obstacles alone. They are holding fundraisers at Dawson's school and church.

"People of faith have a trust. We have a trust where we can lift them up," says Charles Sylvest, Dawson's youth minster.

The fight has just begun for Dawson. He could face complications during his surgery. His body may not even take the transplanted cells.
But that doesn't bother Dawson, he can't wait for the pain to be over.

"If I get something in my leg or something, it just hurts and stuff," he says.

Dawson will have to battle this disease for the rest of his life. There is no cure, but this transplant will keep him from getting infections.

As for Penni Parker, she's asking the community to consider becoming a bone marrow donor. You never know, you could be saving someone like Dawson.

Edgewood Academy and First Baptist Church in Wetumpka are raising money for the Parkers, and are also asking state employees to donate any extra vacation days, so that Penni Parker can keep her job, and stay by her son's side.

To find out more about fundraising efforts and Dawson's progress, head to the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LiftingUpDawsonParker?fref=ts

If you would like to help the family you can call Edgewood Academy at 334) 567-5102 and ask for Susan Montgomery.

This Sunday, First Baptist Church in Wetumpka is hosting a barbecue plate sale and dessert auction for Dawson from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Plates are $14 each.

You can also donate Delta Sky Miles to help cover transportation costs. If you would like to do that, send a message to the Facebook Page, Lifting Up Dawson Parker.

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