Matthew Wood, and his sisters: Hailee Wood, 7, Chloe Buskey, 13, and Leah Girouard 7, walked to raise awareness and support for Matthew’s medical treatment as he fights leukemia.
PLATTSBURGH — On a mild Labor Day morning, 5-year-old leukemia patient Matthew Wood of Plattsburgh courageously walked Main Street in Au Sable Forks wearing his Team Matthew orange tie-dyed T-shirt.
Four weeks prior to the walk, Wood was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Since his diagnosis, his life and his family’s life have changed dramatically.
His mother, Kasi Rockwell, said her son went from being an active young boy and playing with his sisters to losing energy quickly and being unable to play like he’s always done.
“Just the other day he had trouble getting the strength to walk a few steps and it was unbelievable how he walked through the whole parade,” Wood’s aunt, Danyle Rockwell, said.
Kasi said the news of her son’s cancer was both shocking and devastating for their whole family.
“His sisters have been there 100 percent for him, going to doctors appointments and making things more comfortable for him,” Kasi said. “It’s just hard for everyone. This has completely shifted all of our lives.”
Kasi said she first noticed her son was sick when he started bruising in unusual places. The bruises were not the normal little boy bruises she expected to see on her active child. He was bruised in his arm pits and stomach and when the nose bleeds began she knew something was wrong.
“We took him to the doctors, and that night we were bringing him to Burlington and he started treatment, having chemotherapy injected into his spine,” Kasi said.
Wood’s family, facing many unexpected expenses due to his illness, are still facing a long road to Matthew’s recovery. Kasi, who worked at the Homestead Restaurant, had to take a leave of absence from work to be there for her son full-time.
“His treatment has been ongoing with two trips a week to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington,” Danyle said. “He’s looking at a 3-year treatment, there is still a long road ahead.”
Kasi said the support from the community has been a great help and she wanted to thank those who have helped.
“I never thought I would be someone who needed help from the community. I never thought this would happen to our family,” Kasi said.
As his treatment had an aggressive beginning, so has the help from the community. Danyle said she began planning fundraising efforts immediately.
Danyle is selling orange and white tye-dye T-shirts and orange wristbands, the color of leukemia support.
She has also arranged several fundraisers, including a bake sale outside the Plattsburgh Walmart on Sept. 15; a single pitch softball tournament and bottle drive in Au Sable Forks on Sept. 29; a 9-pin “buy a strike” bowling tournament on Oct. 13 at the Riverside Bowling Alley in Au Sable Forks and a spaghetti dinner on Nov. 4 at the Keeseville VFW, 1390 Rt. 9.
The Texas Roadhouse in Plattsburgh will also host a donation night for Matthew on Sept. 26. The restaurant will donate 10 percent of every food purchase to support Matthew’s recovery for diners who mention the charity between 4 and 8 p.m.
Danyle said the support from the community has been overwhelming as she has received donations and sponsorship for events from many area businesses.
There will also be a tattoo benefit sponsored by Marked Man Tattoo in Schuyler Falls on Oct. 20.
“It’s a really different kind of fundraiser, some of our family members plan on getting a tattoo of the leukemia support ribbon,” Danyle said.
For more information on submitting a donation, on upcoming fundraisers, or to purchase a Team Matthew T-shirt or orange support bracelet contact Danyle at 524-4145 or go to the Matthew's Hope Heroes Facebook page.