Last summer The Saline Courier introduced readers to a 2-year-old boy named Easton Begoon who had been diagnosed on July 25, 2011, with T-cell leukemia.
The community responded in droves to help the family with everything from financial aid — and the medical bills still continue to mount today — to prayers and emotional support. In fact, Alan Gibson of the Red Cross told the Courier how overwhelmed his staff was to see Saline County residents donate 150 pints of blood at three different events in three days.
"It's a great testament to the people of Saline County and everyone that embraces the needs of people. This is a very special community," he said.
And now a year has passed and this "special community" needs to ask if the giving of blood, and/or money to those in need is still happening. Or has the giving fallen off?
Easton continues to fight off high temperatures, the feeling of being tired all the time, and being extra-careful when this little boy does get to go outside the hospital room because "he's susceptible to infections," his mother, Tara Begoon, said. There is much more health-wise that Easton battles every day, but if you go to the Prayers For Easton page on Facebook.com, you'll notice Easton usually dispels tension with his bright smile.
"In less than a week, Easton has received four transfusions of blood … and more than 30 since his diagnosis," Tara Begoon told the Courier. "Please encourage everyone to donate blood/platelets to the American Red Cross; they can make it in honor of Easton or whomever they wish. Please donate blood products; they save lives!"
Just a few minutes of your time "and what feels only like a pinch on your arm" can help save numerous lives in Arkansas and beyond, Gibson said. Plus, those that donate before July 31 will be eligible to win a Gibson guitar, courtesy of The Gibson Foundation.
If you don't know much about a Gibson guitar, then do some research, as you'll find that not only is it one of the most expensive brands, it is one of the most iconic guitar brands of all time. Million of musicians — including Duane Allman, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Chet Atkins, Les Paul (who had a broken arm permanently set to better play his Gibson guitar), Jeff Beck, Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Ace Frehley of Kiss, Noel Gallagher of Oasis, B.B. King, Metallica, Jimmy Page, Jerry Garcia, Dave Grohl and the list goes on and on — are known for their Gibson guitars.
"The Red Cross will award multiple guitars and 50,000 guitar picks at donor centers, co-branded with the Gibson and Red Cross logos, during this campaign," according to www.redcrossblood.org . "In addition, you’ll receive a rock 'n' roll-themed T-shirt. As a special incentive for our young donors, anyone aged 16-21 can enter to win a $5,000 scholarship."
To schedule an appointment, call 1-800-Red Cross (1-800-733-2767) or schedule an appointment at www.redcrossblood.org .
"This time of year is tough to get blood donations. With the summer comes great opportunities for people to be with their family on vacations, and it is easy to put blood donations on the back burner," Gibson said. "Unfortunately, it is also a time that there is a greater chance for accidents. At the same time, we see a serious decline in donations; but the need for blood keeps rising. No one knows that better than the police, fire and other emergency personnel that see (the need) every day. These summer blood drives become really important, and I think it is incredibly rewarding to donate."
Gibson said that June 15 is World Blood Donor Day, but a person can donate at any time. And there is no specific blood type that is of greater need than the other; all types are greatly needed.
Just ask the family of Easton Begoon, or Lyla Rose Tolar — another Saline County child who recently received a heart transplant. It wouldn't be stepping out on a ledge to assume that most readers know of some person whose life was saved by a blood donation, or who might need blood donations.
As for Easton Begoon — anyone that questions the financial needs of the family, consider that Easton's father, Hunter, regularly drives back and forth from Benton to Easton's hospital in Texas. Hunter Begoon wasn't even able to personally receive his 2012 Top Gun award from the Benton Police Department, but remains a dedicated seven-year veteran police officer who protects the community's children every day. To help the family, please stop by Hurricane Creek Federal Credit Union in Benton and ask to deposit a donation in the name of Easton Begoon.
People also can order Easton Enforcer T-shirts by visiting the Prayers For Easton page on Facebook.com or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . Tara Begoon said family and friends are distributing the T-shirts in Saline County. There will also be a fundraiser on June 16 — which is Easton's third birthday — at Park Place Baptist Church. The fundraiser begins at 6 a.m. with a yard sale and pancake breakfast.
Remember that you, as the reader, may not have the power to change the world, but you can help change the world in a positive way for a 2-year-old boy. And anyone who orders an Easton Enforcer T-Shirt is encouraged to post a photo wearing the T-shirt on June 16 at the Prayers for Easton page on Facebook.com.