High Desert Heeds Call of Child in Need
Superstar Justin Bieber Also Steps Up For Redmond Girl
From Redmond to Sisters to Bend -- and a special star turn from Hollywood -- all of Central Oregon is rallying behind a little Redmond girl who is facing a tough fight.
Avrey Jane Walker is just 7, but she's battling leukemia for the second time in her life.
First diagnosed at age 4, Avery already has beaten leukemia once.
"She's a child who means a lot to a lot of us here," said Lexie Marks, her teacher at Redmond's John Tuck Elementary.
After undergoing a blood transfusion, a bone marrow biopsy and intense chemotherapy, the youngster finished treatment last February.
The little girl enjoyed a healthy summer, and began second grade last fall. But just before Christmas, symptoms returned, and her parents' worst nightmare came true: the leukemia had returned -- aggressively.
"It's been a very hard journey for the Walker family, because they thought they'd overcome that part of their life," Marks said Friday. "So it's facing a lot of fears and anxieties that they've had to face in the past."
While Avery is getting weekly treatments at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, her school back home is fighting the disease along with her.
Every Friday this month, students give spare change to "Avrey's Well Wishes" collecting spot -- a wishing well.
And already, more than $800 have been raised, with almost every student coming through the doors giving something.
"The kids have been amazing," said Alishia Anderson, reading specialist at John Tuck,
"They've written beautiful notes, even coming up and saying, 'I just have one penny, Mrs. Anderson, is that enough?' It's like, every penny counts. it kind of gets me choked up, even now."
"It's a very difficult concept for (the fellow students) to understand," Marks said. "And explaining it isn't something I feel they need to understand, except that leukemia makes her sick, and we're working to make her feel better."
The school is also selling "Avrey's Angels"' T- shirts, both for kids and adults.
Miles away, Sisters High School has adopted her as their Sparrow Club "sparrow,'' and the Bend Fire Department is using her as inspiration to raise money for a cure in their annual stair climb.
And one of Avery's biggest idols -- singing sensation Justin Bieber -- even made a special video, just for her.
"Hey Avery, It's Justin here," Bieber said. "I just want to say, I hope you have a very merry Christmas, happy holidays. Be blessed, and I'm sending you all my love."
It's love that's piling up, one penny at a time.
Avrey's family has a Caring Bridge Website where they post updates, and you can sign the guest book.
You can learn more about the Avrey's Angels T-shirts from Lexie Marks at John Tuck Elementary, (541) 923-4884.
If you want to make a direct donation to the Walker Family, you can make a deposit in Avrey Walker's account at any branch of Wells Fargo Bank, or visit the school at 209 NW 10th St. in Redmond.
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