MATTOON -- Ever since 22-month-old Journey Campton of Mattoon was diagnosed with cancer in late January, her parents have traveled countless miles for her treatment at St. Louis Children's Hospital.
Family and community members have been pitching in to help Jacob and Megan Campton with their travel expenses and financial needs during this trying time. A benefit has been scheduled for noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Mattoon Moose Lodge.
"Everyone has put out a helping hand," Megan Campton said, adding that she has been "floored" by how supportive the community has been to her family.
Campton said Journey has been diagnosed with a yolk sac tumor in her abdomen. Earlier this week, Journey was scheduled to return for a temporary stay of overnight care at St. Louis Children's Hospital for her third round of chemotherapy. Journey was unable to walk for a time due to her tumor, but she has been getting physical therapy.
"Journey is doing much better than she was. She is walking and she is able to move around on her own now," Campton said, as she watched Journey toddle about their home recently. "Now she is independently walking. It was wonderful to see (for the first time.) I know I cried."
Campton said Journey has been a little "warrior" during her treatments and has held up well during her chemotherapy. She added that, "We did lose all her baby hair, but that's OK. It will grow back."
During much of Journey's treatment process, Campton has kept a journal of her family's experiences at www.followourjourney.net. Campton said her online journal has provided a "safe place to get things off her chest," noting that she often makes entries at 4 a.m. to get her emotions out of the way before the rest of her family wakes for the day.
Besides Journey, their family also includes 10-year-old Daezen and 4-year-old Deakon. Campton said Daezen and his classmates have set up a box with Journey's photo on it at Williams Elementary School to collect diapers, wipes and monetary donations for his family.
"I am really proud of him," Campton said.
Williams Principal McLain Schaefer said he too is proud that Daezen and other students in teacher Julie Markin's class took the initiative to collect donations. He said the fundraising effort also has expanded to include proceeds from the school's April 12 "dollar day," during which students can pay a dollar to dress in their favorite baseball team clothes.
"This is all from the students. This all came from them," Schaefer said. "It's really great to see kids with so much empathy for one another that it has produced a school-wide event."
Campton said the benefit at the Mattoon Moose Lodge will include all-you-can-eat pulled pork, a silent auction, a 50-50 raffle, bounce house, face painting and other children's activities. Donations also can be made to Journey's Benefit Account at First Mid Bank & Trust, where Campton works.