An evening out is a pleasant experience for most people, but area residents have an opportunity to enjoy such an event while supporting a worthy cause.
The event is called "Dining for Dex" and is a benefit for Dexter McDade, the not-quite-one-month-old child of Jerred and Alexis McDade of Tull. The baby currently is hospitalized at Arkansas Children's Hospital.
Friends of the family have planned a benefit pasta dinner to assist the family with the overwhelming costs of Dexter's medical bills.
Dexter was born June 19 with a rare kidney condition that eventually will necessitate a kidney transplant. He is a patient in the pediatric intensive care unit at Children's, where he is undergoing dialysis treatment.
The fundraiser for Dexter and his family is scheduled Saturday, July 21, at the Tull Community Center. Serving is from 4 to 7 p.m.
The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12.
"We are holding this pasta benefit dinner for his family to help with the overwhelming cost of his medical bills," an organizer said.
These reportedly are "minimum prices and all other donations are greatly appreciated."
"His family and friend thank you in advance, from the bottom of their hearts," the organizer said.
The event also will include a silent auction and the sale of "Team Dex" bracelets.
Those who are unable to attend but who who would like to donate to the effort are asked to stop by the Alcoa Federal Credit Union in Benton or Bryant and explain that they are making a donation for Dexter McDade.
Donations also may be mailed to 8623 Sycamore St., Tull, AR 72015.
Jerred McDade spoke about his son's condition by phone from Children's Hospital.
"We're doing good so far," McDade said. "We're taking it a day at a time."
He said Dexter will continue to be a patient at Children's "for at least three or four more weeks. That's my understanding."
"When we go home, we will be trained to do peritoneal dialysis," he said. "He is receiving hemodialysis now.
McDade explained that Dexter received a Tenckhoff catheter on Wednesday. "They'll start it manually next Monday at the earliest and Wednesday at the latest. Then once we go home, we'll be trained to do it. We're not sure yet whether it will be done manually or with a machine."
McDade said Dexter receives his daily hemodialysis treatments (which take three hours) while listening to the "Crazy Praize" album on his iPhone.
He explained that "Crazy Praize" is the music that his daughters are performing in summer youth choir at Saline Missionary Baptist in Tull.
"Once we start the peritoneal dialysis, it will be 10-12 hour treatments using the Tenckhoff catheter that is in his belly," he said.
Speaking about the eventual new kidney, McDade said Dexter "has to be old enough to receive an adult kidney, which is around 2 years old."
He noted that his son "looks much better than when we came to the hospital."
The condition was not diagnosed immediately after his birth, he noted.
"Everything came back normal at first. We went for a one-week checkup and everything looked good. Then the following Friday his eyes were puffy — he looked like he had been in a boxing match. They wanted to check his urine, so they sent us home with a bag to collect urine."
Tests determined the urine contained protein, blood and glucose, he said. "Then on Monday, July 2, they called that night from the hospital and said to bring him to Children's.
"Since then, we've been taking it one day at a time. We've been overwhelmed by love and prayers and support from the community and everywhere.
"I got a phone call the other day from a lady I didn't know, but she asked how he was doing. She had heard about his condition somewhere. She told me that she just wanted us to know that she was thinking about him and praying for him and said she would like to be tested to see if she would be a match as a kidney donor for him.
"I told her we weren't to that point yet," McDade said. "That's a couple of years down the road, but it's so great that someone that doesn't even know us would volunteer to give him a kidney."
McDade said the woman's offer is representative of the support the family has received. "It's been overwhelming. It just goes to show you there are good people out there."
In the meantime, the family is "praying for a miracle," McDade said.
"They haven't given us the exact diagnosis," he said. "We're waiting on lab results and that may be a couple of weeks. They believe it's a rare condition. They said they have seen maybe three cases in the last five years where they have had to do dialysis on a baby his age."
He said all of the "doctors and nurses here are great and our primary care doctor is great as well."
McDade noted that the family has "a long road ahead of us, but with the love and support of our amazing family, fantastic friends and church family, and the grace of God, we will get through this and be stronger for it."
"We also want to thank each and every person that has sent kind words and prayers our way. The support of our community, doctors and everyone around us has been overwhelming and we'll never be able to express how thankful we are to have these people in our lives."
McDade added this message to "all parents out there":
"Hug your kids tight and kiss them every day. And thank God every day for putting that blessing in your life. Don't take your children for granted; every second with them is an eternity."
Jarred McDade works for an engineering firm in Little Rock and is a volunteer firefighter and first responder in Tull. Alexis McDade has been a self-employed day-care operator since 2008. Her husband said she plans to "step away from that for a while in order to focus on Dex's health and our girls."
The McDades are active at Saline Missionary Baptist and have been involved with the Sparks girls softball team in Benton for the past four year.
Dexter's family also includes two sisters, Gracie and Jadyn; and his grandparents, Rita and Troy McDade of Tull; Alex Sponer of Lake City; and Ernie and Tina Coppock of Tull.