Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 13, 2013

Rock for Riley: Local event hopes to benefit local youth diagnosed with ALL

BLUEFIELD, Va. — The Ramsey School Auditorium will rock on Saturday, Jan. 26 to benefit a kindergarten student from Bluefield, Va., battling leukemia.

Amy Keene Graham said her son Riley, 5, has been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) for nearly a year. Graham said “Team Riley” will be hosting “Rock for Riley” at the Ramsey on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. to help raise money for expenses incurred during Riley’s treatment.

“On Jan. 23, 2012, Riley was diagnosed  with ALL,” Graham said. “Near the end of the 2011, he kind of kept getting viral infections, and he couldn’t stay well. If he did get better it just came right back. He also had a lot of pain through his body but mainly in his legs. The first thing in the morning he wouldn’t walk. I had to carry him around in the mornings. I had to help him get dressed and do everything until he started feeling better. Finally, we took him to the doctor and asked for a referral to an orthopedic doctor because we thought it was his joints. The doctor tested him for other things first, and did a slew of blood work. That was how we found out.”

A kindergartner at Dudley Primary School, Graham said Riley doesn’t let ALL get in the way of having fun.

“He is doing great,” Graham said. “When he is sick from the chemo or doesn’t feel good, he will lay around for a few minutes and then is ready to go. You wouldn’t have a clue he had such a serious disease. He stays pretty positive about it. He’s all boy, and he shows it.”

Graham said they have had to make frequent trips to Riley’s hospital in Roanoke, Va., for his treatment.

“We were going to treatments weekly, but we are now in the maintenance phase where we only have to go monthly for actual treatment,” she said. “However, if his temperature spikes we have to call his doctor on Roanoke. There are times we are sent to that ER just because of a fever. We can’t go locally. Even though we have monthly treatments, we could spend every other day or every weekend in Roanoke.”

As a result, Graham said travel and other expenses have accumulated for the family.

“Travel bills and medical bills pile up after a while,” she said. “There’s also expenses for food. I stay with him overnight. I am a single parent, so I am pretty much doing everything. I do have support from friends and family, but it is my obligation to stay with him constantly.”

In addition to raising funds to help with travel expenses to the hospital, Graham said she wants “Rock for Riley” to raise awareness about childhood cancer.

“Right now, we just want to get awareness out about childhood cancer,” she said. “You hear it and see commercials on TV, but until it actually hits close to home you don’t realize how difficult it is. There are more and more kids being diagnosed every day. It is scary knowing what can happen to our kids.”

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