Colby's story inspires new
by Lenny Roberts
It began with Jocelyn Somers' interest in Colby Chapman, the
Ojai boy stricken with bone-marrow leukemia. Somers, an Ojai
Property Shoppe real estate agent, has been visiting Chapman
at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, where he has been receiving
treatment for his illness.
While there, Somers learned that there is a major need for games
of interest to the scores of kids who, hopefully, are making
the institution, their temporary home.
By this edition of the OVN, Chapman, a 9-year-old San Antonio
School student, should be back in Los Angeles for more chemotherapy
after a few days at home.
"His condition is really good," said Somers, "and
he should be an outpatient by December." The prognosis is
a miracle, Somers believes, because he was reportedly near death
when admitted last summer.
"Colby's doctors took a look at him and he was airlifted
to UCLA and not expected to live through the night. I believe
that because of the spirit of Ojai, this kid is special, and
that and he has touched a lot of hearts."
In honor of the Colby's Kids Program, Somers has started Holiday
of Hope, a program to collect new and used Gameboys and board
games for hospitalized children, and equally as important, a
drive to secure and maintain a bloodmobile for Ventura County.
"There is no bloodmobile from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles,
and it's very inconvenient for people to donate," Somers
explained. "Think about it; Children's Hospital is very
short on blood - not just for kids with cancer - but for those
with cystic fibrosis and kids in need of heart transplants. They
use so much blood, and blood is only good for 35 days. When
a kid goes in for chemo, they don't like to use blood that's
more than 15 days old. Getting a bloodmobile is like getting
an act of god, but there's no two ways about it, we'll do it."
Somers said that even with all the corporations employing thousands
of people in Los Angeles, nobody wants to take 20 minutes and
drive to Children's Hospital. Backing up that allegation, Somers
said that last Thursday, seven
people donated blood. The day before, 27 pints of blood were
donated - from The Thacher School, mostly from football players.
"The Thacher kids read about the upcoming fund raiser and
wanted to do something. They know we need blood, and they did
this all on their own," Somers said.
A visit last week from Britney Spears was the obvious highlight
of Chapman's stay at Children's Hospital, where he told Chapman,
"She kissed me on the head and now can't wash it. You know
what's better? Those kids from Thatcher coming up to my room."
Board and video games are needed for the children because Somers
said they have a down period following chemotherapy, and the
steroids induced can have a tendency to make them mean and angry.
"We're also in need of more people to cook meals for the
family and possibly bake for them." Somers explained. "They
are all doing really well thanks to all the wonderful community
support and the open-hearted people that have taken them in and
given them a sense of self-worth."
Had he attended San Antonio School this semester, Chapman would
have been in the same class as Somers' son, Jackson. Somers wants
Chapman to be able to participate in his fourth-grade class and
not held back a year because of his illness.
"I contacted Michael Dell from Dell Computers. I asked them
to donate computers and cameras to hook these kids up so that
they can actually participate in their school's classes. God
Bless home-school (at Children;'s Hospital), but its only an
hour a day," Somers said.
On Nov. 16, Michael Kaufer is promoting a fund-raising event
at the Ojai Valley Woman's Center, including entertainment by
Alan Thornhill, Milton Kelley and others, along with a silent
and live auction.
"And Stacy Jones at the Ojai Coffee Roasting Company matches
every dollar placed in a plastic bowl for Colby. If not for all
these people, none of this would have happened," Somers
For critically ill children with no insurance, Somers said
"Dr. John Boles (former Ojai resident and an original St.
Jude's Hospital co-founder) is a gold mine. "He has made
a promise that any child that is ill and needs to be hospitalized,
St. Judes Hospital will take care of that family - airfare, the
hospital and everything."
© 2002 The Ojai Valley
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