More than 50 individuals, ranging from children to adults, gathered on the Delaware County Courthouse Lawn on Sunday, Aug. 13, with one goal in mind - to pray for 2-year-old Kasen Sparks.
Sparks has been hospitalized at St. Francis Children's Hospital in Tulsa, since he suffered an anoxic brain injury, after falling into his grandmother's pool on Saturday, July 22. He was rescued by family members after he was discovered in the pool.
In critical condition, On July 25, Kasen began responding to stimuli and opening his eyes. Since then, his family has pursued the possibilities of taking Kasen to New Orleans for an experimental hyperbaric treatment.
Sunday's gathering was designed not only to raise awareness about Kasen's medical condition, but also allow members of the community to write notes to the toddler, as well as provide financial support for his mother and grandmother.
Bonnie Freeman-Flaming, a family friend, led the vigil, for her friend and nursing colleague, Amity Sparks, Kasen's "Mimi".
"There have been a few set backs, so we wanted to get together tonight to pray for him," Freeman-Flaming told those gathered around the courthouse gazebo.
Freeman-Flaming said because the proposed hyperbaric treatment is experimental, the family's insurance will not cover the expenses.
She said enough money has been raised - through t-shirt sales and a fundraiser hosted by PJ's BBQ during the Jay Cruise Night, to offset the cost of 20-some treatments, the minimum required by the facility.
Other funds are needed, Freeman-Flaming said, to help pay for Kasen's transportation to New Orleans, as well as food and lodging for his family during the two-month treatment.
"My specific prayer request," Freeman-Flaming told the crowd, "is for healing prayers. We need all the prayers we can get.
"Also that the funds will come in. I know people have given and some have given only $5, but they've given from the heart."
The family estimates transportation by a private ambulance will cost $6,000.
"We want him to get this treatment, so he can get his life back," Freeman-Flaming said.
For Amity Sparks, the support shown by members of the Jay community for herself, her daughter, Deidrah, and Kasen, has been overwhelming.
"We are very thankful for our community, it's amazing," Amity Sparks said, adding that the family truly believes the treatment in New Orleans is the way to go for Kasen.
If things go as planned, doctors plan to discharge Kasen from St. Francis on Aug. 17. He is scheduled to begin treatment in New Orleans on Aug. 21.
A recent study outlining the benefits of the hyperbaric treatment, talked about how the treatments helped a young girl named Eden Carlson.
Amity Sparks said Eden was 70 days past her incident, when she received her treatment. Kasen will be at 30 days if he begins treatment on Aug. 21.
"She's now walking, talking and eating, she has a quality of life she did not have before," Amity Sparks said.
How to donate
A YouCaring page has been established, www.youcaring.com/kasensparks-886876, for online donations.
A bank account, "Amity Sparks donation account for Kasen Sparks," has been established at Grand Savings Bank in Jay and Grove for local donations.
Additional, organizers are planning to host a hog fry and pie auction at 10 a.m., Friday, Sept. 1, at the Jay Community Center in Jay. Tickets are $7 per plate, which includes hog meat, potatoes, fry bread, brown beans, jambalaya, drink and dessert. The pie auction is set to start at 6 p.m. To donate for the pie auction, persons interested may contact Bo Goins at 918-253-7896.
Danica Sparks, Kasen's aunt, has purchased - with the help of Randy Webb, from Randy Webb Insurance, 1,000 rubber wristbands. Those bands, which will arrive next week, will be sold for $2 each.
The bands read "Kasen's Krew" on one side and "Tough times never last, but tough guys do" along with the Superman symbol on the other. To purchase a wristband, persons may contact Danica Sparks at 918-960-4895.
A yard sale is being planned for Saturday, Sept. 16, in the parking lot of the Sam Heider Medical Center.
A Facebook Page, designed to update people about Kasen's condition may be found by searching "prayersforbabykasensparks."