Maddox students honor ailing classmate
by Briana Webster
Apr 12, 2014 | 2574 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lane Clark, third from left, poses with a few of his closest friends at Maddox Middle School Thursday. Daily Mountain Eagle - Briana Webster
Lane Clark, third from left, poses with a few of his closest friends at Maddox Middle School Thursday. Daily Mountain Eagle - Briana Webster
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A mass of orange filled the sky Thursday afternoon as Lane Clark and his family, friends, students and the faculty and staff of Maddox Middle School held a balloon release in Clark’s honor.

Clark, 14, was diagnosed in October 2013 with T-cell leukemia. He made his first appearance at Maddox Thursday since he was diagnosed and started treatments at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. Before the release, Clark’s father, Jasper Fire Chief David Clark, spoke to the school about Lane’s journey and showed his appreciation for all the support Lane and his family have received from the community.

“As you know, he [Lane] went from three sports a year to the hospital or home, and it turned his life upside down. In turn, it turned our lives upside down, so we knew we had an adjustment,” David Clark said, as Lane looked on from the sound booth above the auditorium. “... He’s getting to get out and do a little bit of stuff and like I said today, seeing him be able to come up here is a blessing. More than that, it’s a blessing seeing you, his friends, communicating with him, too. Each one of you have been our support group from coaches, teachers, faculty, friends, students.” 

On Feb. 6, David Clark said the doctors performed a bone marrow test on Lane while he was in the hospital for a chemotherapy treatment. The following day, the doctors told Lane the results from that test showed he was cancer free, and “that’s the best news that I’ve ever heard in my life, I can tell you that,” his father said.

Students raised a little more than $800 to donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society based in Birmingham. Jason Fields, who works with the society, provided faculty and students with information about the different types of cancer and how their donation will be used to further their research.

“One thing, guys, about this disease is what makes it so terrible is we never know why someone gets it. One day, as you heard right there, you’re playing football, maybe a little winded, most of us just think it’s some typical cold or something like that coming on. Believe me, we’ve met children all across this state, and that’s how it just started,” Fields said. “... There are a lot of support groups all over the state of Alabama. There’s also co-pay assistance; $760,000 went out to different patients and families in Alabama last school fiscal year. That’s a lot of money that goes out to help families.” 

After the assembly, students walked down to the grassy field in front of the school and received bright orange balloons. Lane and his family looked on as hundreds of balloons floated into the sky. Afterward, Lane was immersed by his classmates and friends, talking and laughing with one another.

David Clark said that his son is “doing well. The leukemia is gone, but we still have about two and a half years of treatments to make sure it doesn’t come back.”

Denise Timmons, one of the school’s counselors, opened the day’s assembly and introduced both speakers before guiding students outside for the balloon release. She was excited to see Lane, his family and friends come together and congregate at the school Thursday.

“We just wanted to do something for Lane and for his family, and I have in the past done fundraisers for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, but I wanted to raise awareness with the student body as to what the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society did. I also wanted to do something, especially, to honor Lane because he’s really been a trooper,” Timmons said. “He’s really fought hard, and we’re just extremely proud that now his blood work is showing up that he is cancer free. I think it’s been important for his classmates to just be able to see him and see the positive results that his tests are showing that he is cancer free, but they just have a special place in all of our hearts, and we just tried to do something special.”