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Family reciprocates community generosity

July 14, 2011
By Kathleen Palumbo
Still reeling from and dealing with their son’s illness, the parents and grandparents of Brett Wilcox are focused not just on him, but on giving back.

Despite a 21-month roller coaster ride that began in October of 2009 with Brett’s diagnosis of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, his parents, Don and Sharon Wilcox, and grandmother Beth Dobrindt look back not just on the difficulties, but the inspiring moments as Brett continues to travel a long road to recovery.

“There are so many people who have helped us that we haven’t thanked,” said Don Wilcox, recalling that first fateful trip to Akron, after which they found themselves not returning home for quite some time.

Sharing that people stepped in to care for their pets, to clean and sanitize their home, and to hold fundraisers to help defray medical costs, Wilcox remains overwhelmed at the generosity of family, friends, hospital staff, and even strangers.

Even now, Wilcox becomes emotional remembering waking in Brett’s hospital room on Christmas morning to a lit tree and presents, marveling that the family slept through all the activity of a warm-hearted nurse who, despite their circumstances, made their Christmas a very special one.

Adding a particular note of thanks to the staff of Akron Children’s Hospital, and the Ronald McDonald House, Wilcox and his wife, and Dobrindt share a need to pay it forward by offering help to others in similar situations. Having experienced the spirit of true generosity from the receiving end, “we know the need,” said Wilcox.

“The most amazing thing is how many people go through it,” said Wilcox, who added that although they were shocked at the magnitude of similar childhood illness while in Akron Children’s Hospital, in Cincinnati he said they witnessed it on an even grander scale.

Because a great deal of time was spent within the confines of medical facilities, both Wilcox and Dobrindt shared their awareness that many donations come from parents of children who didn’t survive.

“I would love to be able to take a family dealing with this diagnosis and show them hope,” said Wilcox, adding that he wants the chance to be able to say, “Our child is doing great.”

According to Dobrindt, a previously held golf outing helped their family, along with four others families, leading to a decision to make the event a regular thing.

The Brett Wilcox Benefit Golf Outing will be held July 24 at Lakeside Golf Course in Lake Milton. The event begins with 7:30 a.m. registration including coffee and doughnuts, an 8 a.m. shotgun start, hot dogs and chips at the turn, and dinner.

According to Dobrindt, the generosity continues as Stadium GM has donated a 2011 Chevy Cruze for a hole in one, and other donations will make for an exciting event. Interested parties are asked to call John Dobrindt, at 330-793-7782.

Having dealt with their son’s illness in different ways, Wilcox shared that while he simply wanted to be there for his son, his wife wanted to know everything.

“If it weren’t for her I don’t know where we’d be,” he said.

Brett’s remission by April of 2010 was followed by a serious relapse, additional treatments bringing him back into remission, and a cord transplant in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in August of 2010. Although daily life remains cautious for Brett, whose life remains centered on his family and his own home, he still visits both Akron and Cincinnati Children’s Hospitals and is currently doing well.

While certainly not back to normal, the Wilcox family is slowly regaining its footing. Don and Sharon Wilcox, who had both taken medical leaves from their jobs to be with their son, have returned to work.

Despite his ongoing ordeal, Brett is a happy three-and-a-half-year-old, meeting his dad's return from work with squeals of delight.

As for Dobrindt, while she continues to babysit for Brett and help out, something is amiss. Sharing that until he is healthy enough, she still hasn’t hugged or kissed her grandson in quite some time.

“I’m waiting for my day,” she said.





Article Photos

Photo by Kathleen Palumbo, Town Crier correspondent
Returning from work, Don Wilcox immediately gives in to his son's pleas to “Play with me daddy,” falling into a game of Candyland.

 
 

 

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