WILLIAMSON - The Mingo County Commission is "going gold" for the next month after they approved a proclamation presented by local childhood cancer advocate Tonya Webb proclaiming the month of September as Childhood Cancer Awareness for Mingo County.
"My goal today and for the past few years has been to just help bring awareness to this," Webb said before the County Commission. "I'm hoping that Mingo County will 'go gold' again for the month of September. We would like to see it for the whole month, whether you light up your building gold, or you wear a gold shirt or put a little gold ribbon on your door. Just something that these children can see when they are driving by so that they do know they have the support that they need."
According to Webb, only 4% of cancer funding is given directly to childhood cancer. She also said that the treatments for childhood cancer patients are just as harsh as the treatments for adult cancer patients.
Webb had two families from the Tug Valley region in attendance at the meeting who had been directly affected by childhood cancer.
Cancer survivor Emily Baisden, a seventh-grade student at Lenore K-8, attended with her mother, Brandy Fletcher. Fletcher talked about the struggles that her daughter and her family has endured since she was diagnosed in early 2018. Baisden underwent successful surgery on her brain in January 2018 to remove 50% of the cancer.
Due to the dangers surrounding chemotherapy and radiation, especially for someone Emily's age, they decided to not go that route and kept making regular checkups with the doctors.
According to her mother, Baisden is finishing up her round of six-month check ups and will soon only have to go back to the doctor once a year.
Also in attendance to share their story was Nick and Tara Hurley of Edgarton, whose son Phillip Eugene Hurley passed away in 2015 at the age of 11. Philip, who was a student at Matewan K-8, was diagnosed with cancer in 2012.
Commissioner Thomas Taylor made a motion to pass the proclamation, and Commission President Diann Hannah seconded the motion.
"You are going to be a voice for these kids," a teary-eyed Hannah said to Tara Hurley's after her story about her son Philip.
"You're going to make a change with this cancer group ... you need to make these medical groups aware what these little children need. It's good that we look out for the adults, but the ball has been dropped when it comes to resources for the children. ... I know that you will be a voice, because you've been hurt, you've been through it, and you know what a child needs."
Webb also said that she was going to hang gold lights around the outside of the courthouse and that Williamson Memorial Hospital was having a dinner for children and their families who have been affected in any way by cancer.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice declared Wednesday, Sept. 18, as the designated "Go Gold" day for the Mountain State, but Webb said she hopes Mingo County can lead the initiative and "Go Gold" for the entire month.
In other county news, the commission approved a motion to give the Town of Kermit access to some of the funding to the Coal Heritage Area Authority grant for river access, pending approval from the Kermit City Council, to finish their river access ramp in downtown Kermit.
Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.