‘People have Marvel for superheroes - I have this kid’: Cattle Baron’s Ball highlights 7-year-old pediatric cancer survivor
MECHANICSVILLE, Va. (WWBT) - The Cattle Baron’s Ball is one of the biggest fundraisers in Richmond that supports the American Cancer Society.
This year’s event hopes to raise $1 million - money that will fund groundbreaking research in the commonwealth.
This research will help kids like Jaiden Scelzo, of Mechanicsville, who recently celebrated his 7th birthday.
For his family, it is a day filled with gratitude, but also a reminder of what was.
“It was very tough, there would be days where I go in the shower and just cry...as strange as it sounds more positive came out of it than negative. You realize things about your life, things you can live with and things you can’t live without,” Jackie and Mike Scelzo, Jaiden’s parents, said.
On Jaiden’s second birthday, his dad, who is a truck driver, wanted to take his son for a ride, but he knew something was wrong.
“I ended up calling dispatch, canceling all of my loads, and took him to the doctor and urged a nurse practitioner, a doctor, or someone to do bloodwork,” Mike Scelzo said.
He added that regardless of how much it cost, he was going to pay for it. When Jackie Scelzo arrived at the doctor’s office, she noticed a piece of paper with a list of possible causes.
“It said anemia, leukemia, and I was like let’s go... we’re going to VCU,” Jackie Scelzo said.
Jackie Scelzo said after the doctors did the bloodwork, they came in with the news - it was Leukemia. After receiving the news, Mike Scelzo had one question for the doctors.
“Am I planning a funeral in the near future, just tell me right now, and they said ‘no, it’s got a very high survival rate,’” he said.
Mike Scelzo said doctors wanted to schedule Jaiden’s procedures a few days later, but he refused, insisting they help his son immediately. Mike Scelzo added that he went outside and prayed.
“I said ‘God, the devil is trying to take my son, and I don’t have the tools for this besides you,’” Mike Scelzo said.
Mike Scelzo said when he returned, a bed opened up, and Jaiden’s journey began.
Jackie Scelzo spoke about the process Jaiden made.
“Within the first month of treatment, he was in remission and he has stayed in remission,” Jackie Scelzo said.
Dr. Anthony Faber, of VCU Massey Cancer Center, helps develop new pediatric cancer treatments.
He said pediatric cancer is historically underfunded by the federal government and some drugs that work in adults have not shown the same results for children, and the money from the American Cancer Society is potentially making an impact.
“Particularly at the beginning stages of progress, when the data is not as mature, and it’s not really clear where it’s going, you’re able to take more chances which is really where everything exciting comes from,” Faber said.
Faber expresses his gratitude for being a part of this groundbreaking research.
“I cannot iterate enough how important it is and how thankful I am as an American Cancer Society funded researcher for your support and to keep going, because even though there is a wait to see a lot of this come to fruition, it will come and just keep on supporting,” Faber said.
The money donated to the American Cancer Society will continue to make an impact as kids like Jaiden continue to fight each day.
“People have Marvel for superheroes, I have this kid... hands down,” Mike Sclezo said.
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