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High school students raise over $2,000 for family battling cancer, other medical issues

Jake and Kailee Pearson are the parents of four kids. Their two youngest are battling serious medical issues. | Courtesy photo
FIRTH — Firth High School seniors Rylee Nielson and Josie Johnson raised more than $2,000 to help a teacher whose family is dealing with medical troubles.
Diana Pearson has worked at Firth High in different capacities and impacted thousands of students for the last 29 years. Her husband is battling bone cancer and she has two grandchildren being treated at Primary Children’s Hospital.
At the beginning of the year, Nielson and Johnson were given parameters for their senior project. The assignment needed to be completed before the end of the school year, and they needed to serve someone in the community. When they heard about Pearson’s struggles, they knew they wanted their project to be dedicated to her.
Every October, Firth High School holds a “Dig Pink” volleyball game to raise awareness for cancer. It was the perfect opportunity to surprise Pearson, who has frequently reffed lines at volleyball games.
Nielson and Johnson raised money for Pearson’s family in the weeks leading up to the event. They sold cancer awareness t-shirts and canvassed businesses searching for funds.
The night of October 11, members of the community and school gathered to watch the game. As planned, Pearson was in attendance. After the buzzer, Nielson and Johnson stepped onto the court with a microphone. As they began to introduce their project, they called Pearson up to join them on the court and her eyes welled with tears.
“Thank you so much. I love Firth,” said Pearson from the court.

Diana Pearson, center, addresses the crowd during a volleyball game at Firth High School on Oct. 11. Her husband is battling bone cancer. | Morgan Mathis,
Pearson drove her husband in for surgery right after the game that night because of a tumor near his brain.
Her granddaughter, Mailee Sue, was born with Gastroschisis, meaning her intestines were outside of her body. Doctors initially told her parents that she would be better and out of the NICU within six months. She turns 1 on Saturday.
Mailee’s 18-month-old brother, Cooper, started refusing food. He seemed angry and uncomfortable. Soon, they found out he had a tumor on his brain. The tumor is inoperable and has since metastasized down his spine. Both children have a huge battle ahead, and the financial burden is forcing their family to move to Utah.
“Jake (Pearson’s son) doesn’t get to work much,” Pearson explained to the crowd. “(He and his wife) have been under a lot of stress. I can tell you that they feel your prayers and ask you to continue to pray for them. We’ve seen many miracles … and we know that is because so many people love them (and) are praying for them.”

Mailee and Cooper Pearson are being treated at Primary Children’s Hospital. | Courtesy photo

Between hospital stays and appointments, Mailee and Cooper are typical toddlers. They love to play. On their good days, only the feeding tubes and wires they carry point to the fact that they are sick.
“As a mom, it just hurts your heart to see your kid is different than other kids, and other kids are afraid just because they don’t know. You don’t think to teach them until you are living it,” says Mailee and Cooper’s mom, Kailee.
She hopes people will teach their children to not be afraid of kids who are different and that it’s okay to talk to them.
Despite the difficulties, Kailee says their faith in “a perfect plan” is what’s getting them through this and they’re “overwhelmed with gratitude.”
“We don’t want anyone ever to have to live this, but the lessons that it is teaching us is just … unreal. It’s amazing,” says Kailee.
On her way out of the game, Diana expressed gratitude to the community for the support she and her family have received.
“I can’t even put it into words. These people who support me – these people are like my family,” she said. “They’re amazing — amazing community and amazing kids. They’ve got the best parents.”
If you would like to help the family, they have a GoFundMe set up. Those who want to follow their progress can join the “Mailee and Coopers Journey” Facebook group.
The post High school students raise over $2,000 for family battling cancer, other medical issues appeared first on East Idaho News.

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