Weatherford Democrat

Local News

May 13, 2009

Beyond Jessie

Hemi Foundation’s benefit run signals worldwide growth of Parker County-grown organization

Chelsea L. McGowan

The Hemispherectomy Foundation was formed almost one year ago in Parker County, to benefit local kindergarten student Jessie Hall. Since that time, the foundation has grown by leaps and bounds, and Jessie has recovered incredibly from the surgery that removed half of her brain.

And so it is fitting that this Saturday, the community of Aledo will join with friends from far and wide to take part in the first Dreams on Wings 5K and 1-mile fun run, benefitting children around the world who’ve had the same surgery as Jessie.

“One of the things we’re very excited about is that there’ll be nine families there who have a hemi-kid... that’s what we call them,” said Caren Cherry-Jennings, co-founder. “They’re coming from all over. That’s so great, because a year ago, the Halls didn’t know anyone with a child who’d had this surgery. And now they’ll know nine families they can share with.”

The chip-timed and certified 5K will start at Parker County Physical Therapy, located at 879 E. Eureka in Weatherford, at 8 a.m. on Saturday. With 175 racers and 35 sponsors already signed up, Cherry said there’s still room for plenty more.

“We expect a good turnout, and we’ll still gathering up stuff that people have donated and signing people up,” she said. “But that’s just how Parker County people are... they just want to help. The support has been so overwhelming.”

Money raised by the Hemispherectomy Foundation goes entirely to support “hemi kids” and their families, according to Cherry-Jennings. She said the organization’s reach has extended exponentially over the last year.

“It’s grown like crazy,” she said. “We have an office in London, and one near L.A., and one in Indiana. Mostly, the people running these branches are hemi parents, but not all. Some of us are just volunteers.”

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