Community rallies around ailing 7th grader

By on October 3, 2012

By: CHELSEA SHANK Ephrata Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

Hunter Leisey

Hunter Leisey has a smile and a way about him that makes people like him immediately.

The nurses at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital who are caring for the 13-year-old while he receives chemotherapy treatments get to see that smile every day.

Leisey, a seventh grader at Cocalico 15.2Middle School, has maintained a positive attitude since he was diagnosed with AML leukemia in August.

His parents, Randy and Pam Leisey, of Adamstown Borough, had found out at the beginning of August that their oldest son, Cody, 16, had Crohn’s disease. So when Hunter started complaining that he felt funny a few weeks after his brother’s diagnosis, they thought perhaps he had Crohn’s disease too.

"It was just enough of a change that I knew he wasn’t himself," said Pam Leisey, of her son’s behavior and symptoms.

They had blood work done at their doctor’s office and the results came back not for Crohn’s Disease, but for a form of leukemia that is rare among children.

"We were just totally shocked. We though maybe it was Crohn’s disease or acid reflux or just a stomach virus, but never leukemia," Pam Leisey said.

Hunter started chemotherapy on Aug. 22, just a few hours after doctors broke the news to the Leisey family.

He will continue chemotherapy treatment for the next six months, as his family travels to and from Hershey with him.

Hunter’s mother said that his positive attitude keeps the rest of the family going, and the Leisey family has been overwhelmed by the support that the Cocalico community has shown their family.

A chicken barbecue was held Sept. 29 at the Adamstown Rod and Gun with all proceeds to benefit Hunter and his medical expenses.

"It’s amazing and it kind of leaves us speechless," said Pam Leisey. "It is extremely overwhelming."

They cannot thank everyone individually but they are "just so grateful" to everyone who has been so generous to them, Pam Leisey said.

Hunter plays baseball and ice hockey for Cocalico and is a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Capitals and the Hershey Bears.

The Cocalico Ice Hockey Club and Garden Spot Ice Hockey Club are now selling telling tickets for the Reading Royals home game against Trenton on Oct.13. Tickets can be purchased for $15 at $5 from each ticket sold will go toward Hunter’s medical expenses.

Bracelets that say "Hockey Players Hitting for Hunter" are also for sale to benefit Hunter. They can be purchased on Oct. 20 at the Adamstown AppleUmpkin Festival.

If anyone is unable to attend the events but would still like to give, donations can be sent to The Cocalico Branch Fulton Bank, 2350 N. Reading Road, Suite 14, Denver, PA 17517, to the attention of Tracy Walter. Make checks payable to Randy and Pam Leisey and write "benefit account" in the memo section.

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