Weatherford Democrat

Aledo ExtrA

May 21, 2013

Aledo teen needs heart transplant

By Judy Sheridan

Aledo Middle School student Dylan Hancock needs a heart transplant, and volunteers from the Aledo community — some 20 strong — are working hard to make sure he will be able to afford the many related expenses.

The group’s fundraising goal: $40,000, as estimated by partner Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA), to pay for doctor visits and therapy after the life-saving surgery, which Dylan’s insurance will cover.

They are calling the grassroots effort, “Hearts of Hope for Dylan.”

“This whole East Parker County area has a long history of supporting important causes,” Community Coordinator Rob Helms said. “Our job is raising awareness. This needs to go viral in the sense that everybody knows about it, that it’s on everyone’s Facebook page.”

Fifteen-year-old Dylan, the son of Mondee Hancock, learned he would need a transplant in January as his Dilated Cardiomyopathy — diagnosed in September — worsened.

After spending two weeks in intensive care at Cook Children’s Medical Center, Dylan was transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston by air ambulance April 3, where doctors installed a temporary left ventricle assist device (LVAD) to help circulate his blood.

“I asked him the day before surgery if he was worried,” said Helms, Dylan’s Aledo ISD mentor and friend, “and he said, ‘I’m a little concerned, but I will do whatever it takes.’”

“I am amazed at his courage. He gets up and faces things and does what he has to do.”

The open-heart surgery was hard on the teen, with two weeks of down time, Helms said, but successful.

“It worked,” he said. “His organs are functioning with the proper blood flow; the LVAD is doing its job. “

In fact, Dylan is doing so well that he may be released from the hospital soon, Helms said. He must stay in Houston, however, for frequent doctor visits and occupational and physical therapy.

The eighth-grader becomes eligible for a transplant July 11, he said, giving his body 90 days to recover from his LVAD surgery.

“The transplant team will want him to stay close then,” Helms said, “because when the call comes, he will have to be there quickly.”

Helms, whose past successes as a stockbroker and in the oil and gas business have bought him more time to invest in the community, met Dylan at the beginning of the boy’s seventh-grade year.

“Someone suggested I get involved with the mentoring program with the school district,” Helms said. “I completed the half-day training, and they sent me to AMS to meet this young man.

“We started having lunch once a week in a storage room off the cafeteria. To his credit, he had an interest in the things a 50-year-old man had to say.”

By the beginning of eighth grade, Helms said, Dylan had decided to make some changes in his life, to earn respect by giving respect, to buckle down with his schoolwork, to be a leader on the football field.

“I know plenty of grown men who are not capable of remaking themselves like that,” Helms said. “His character and courage were evident then.”

The devastating diagnosis in September, following a chest X-ray related to Dylan’s asthma, meant the end of football — a huge disappointment to the talented athlete — but not the end of his new resolve.

“He wasn’t happy, but he didn’t bail on his plans,” Helms said. “He was still coming to school and working hard.”

Dylan’s heart condition however, continued to deteriorate, eventually leading to the decision to go forward with a transplant.

“We talked about it and decided not to be afraid to be afraid,” Helms said, “to seek answers and control what we could control and leave the rest up to God.”

There are rules for the AISD mentorship program, Helms said, rules that limit mentor/student contact to school sites or school functions.

“I called Denise Dugger, who runs the program,” Helms said, “and I told her the dynamics had changed, that I was dealing with something much bigger than an hour a week.

“I told her I would have to play by my own rules now.”

His mentor mindset had given way to the role of a friend, Helms said, not only to Dylan but to his mother, Mondee, and his 2-year-old sister, Elizabeth.

On the night before the LVAD surgery, as Mondee readied for the flight to Houston, Helms and his wife, Denise, offered to take Elizabeth into their home for a week, while Dylan and his mother got things sorted out.

When it looked like that road might be a long one, Helms asked his family — including 17-year-old Austin and 15-year-old Alex — to support a more long-term arrangement.

“We told Mondee to leave her until she was in a position to take her back,” he said, “and it’s been wonderful. A toddler brings a lot of energy — they’re learning new stuff every day — and the kids are tickled to have Lunchables and macaroni and cheese in the house.”

Fundraising efforts for Dylan kick off big time this week, Helms said, as some 75 Young Life of Aledo High School students set out to raise awareness of the boy’s plight by blanketing Aledo with 3,600 feet of teal ribbons, as well as teal paper and paint.

Other plans call for silicon bracelets, sponsorship T-shirts, a mid-June car wash and a July pancake breakfast.

“We’re connected with COTA, an unbelievable non-profit that will administer this fund for no fee,” Helms said.

“They’re the ones who have set this $40,000 goal through their experience and understanding of his coverage.”

To plug in to fundraising efforts, contact Helms at 972-342-6692 or wowsiteet@att.net.

Donations for Dylan may be mailed to the Children’s Transplant Association, 2501 COTA Drive, Bloomington, Indiana, 47403. Checks or money orders should be made payable to COTA, with “In Honor of Team Dylan H” written on the memo line of the check.

Secure credit card donations are also accepted online at www.COTAforTeamDylanH.com.

1
Text Only
Aledo ExtrA
  • Splash Kingdom suspect Water park burglar sought

    Weatherford and Hudson Oaks police are requesting the public’s assistance in catching a burglar who broke into Splash Kingdom Water Park in Hudson Oaks earlier this month. 

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Commissioner at odds with school district's demand for land

    Aledo ISD superintendent Derek Citty is moving forward with plans backed by the school board in May — plans to secure two school sites in the Morningstar subdivision, slated for the corner of Old Weatherford Road and FM Road 3225 in the City of Fort Worth’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.

    July 29, 2014

  • 0729 better coach tattoo.jpg An unforgettable state championship

    Corey Kiser and Riley Sartain, members of Aledo High School’s state champion softball team, honored by trustees last week, are to blame for the 10-3 tattoo on the finger of their coach, Jeff Lemons.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Firefighter arrested for child sexual assault

    A volunteer Hudson Oaks firefighter is in the Parker County Jail on charges he repeatedly sexually assaulted two young relatives over a several year period.
    Richard Frederick Adams Sr., 62, arrested July 21, faces two charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14, a first-degree felony.

    July 29, 2014

  • Fire protection improving in Aledo

    Stephen Watson, interim chief of Emergency Services District No. 1, briefed the Aledo City Council on improvements to the city’s fire protection — including the purchase of a site for a new fire station — in Thursday night’s Aledo City Council session.

    July 29, 2014

  • Aledo ISD trustees affirm hiring policy

    The Aledo ISD School Board affirmed a policy delegating the hiring of most school personnel to the administration by a 4-1 margin last week, with trustees Jay Stringer, David Tillman, Hoyt Harris and Steve Bartley voting in favor and trustee Bobby Rigues arguing that the board should retain the responsibility.

    July 29, 2014

  • Aledo coffee shop helps support the troops

    HUDSON OAKS — Wild West Splash Kingdom was the host of military members and military supporters the night of Saturday, July 19, during ‘Salute the Troops,’ sponsored by Holy Grounds Coffee and Gifts in Aledo and Ducerus College Planning.

    July 29, 2014

  • Calendar of events

    Aug 2-23
    Movies!

    Holy Grounds Coffee & Gifts, at 108 Jearl Street, is hosting a series of outdoor movies in their parking lot at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays through Aug. 23.
    Admission is free and feature drinks are half price during the films. “The Amazing Spiderman” is  Aug. 2, followed by “Tangled” on Aug. 9, “The Lego Movie” on Aug. 16 and “The Avengers” on Aug. 23.
    For more information, call 817-440-7770.

    July 29, 2014

  • 0729 one purple heart group.jpg A Purple Heart County

    County Judge Mark Riley and Parker County commissioners proclaimed Parker County to be a “Purple Heart County” Monday, honoring local veterans and their families in a special ceremony held in the second floor courtroom of the historic courthouse. 

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0725 one arson.JPG Suspicious house fire under investigation

    The Weatherford fire marshal says a fire that damaged a house and killed two puppies Wednesday night is being investigated as a suspicious fire and a suspect is in jail on unrelated charges.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo