Organizers of the 12th annual Christopher Foundation Gospel Celebration – held Saturday at Neosho’s First Baptist Church – were very pleased with the turnout.

“We had a great crowd,” said Cathy Cooley, mother of Christopher Cooley – who the foundation is named after. “We raised more than $13,100.”

The foundation was named after Christopher Cooley who was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma at 3 1/2 years of age. Following his diagnosis he went through several major surgeries, many, many rounds of chemotherapy, along with radiation and a stem cell transplant on March 1, 1995. He stayed in remission for 19 months before he relapsed in October 1997. He went through a variety of chemotherapy treatments, painful antibody treatments, tumor vaccine treatment, surgeries and radiation. Christopher died on Feb. 4, 2001, at the age of 9.

The first event for Christopher was held a week prior to his passing away. He was in the hospital and the event was taped for him to hear.

The Christopher Foundation raises public Awareness of pediatric cancer, Support patient and families, and gain Knowledge through research funding (ASK).

Bernadine Sprenkle of eastern Newton County, knew Christopher.

“He was a very pleasant little boy,” Sprenkle said.

Cathy noted the event is the foundation’s annual fundraiser and that they rely on this event to support all the things they do throughout the year.

“Each year, we take Easter baskets to Children's Mercy Hospital (in Kansas City), we also provide a Thanksgiving dinner for all the patients and families that are in the hospital over the holiday,” Cathy said in an earlier interview with the Neosho Daily News.

The foundation also sponsors a Make-A-Wish for a local child with cancer, gives money to help support Camp Quality – a local camp for kids with cancer and cooks a meal for the campers and workers — and participates in the Newton County Relay For Life event, to name a few.

Those attending were treated to chili, four gospel music groups, silent and live auctions.

One couple who turned out was Frank and Margaret Copeland.
“We come nearly every year,” Margaret said. “I feel like it is a good benefit. We try to support everything that we can in our area. I feel like they do a lot of good things and we just like to come to support it.”

For about the last four years, Nola Daugherty, Neosho, has made the trek to the event. Aside from enjoying the food and music, she loves to help out.

“I have sympathy for kids who have cancer,” she said.

Daughtery said she thinks other communities should do these fundraisers to help children with cancer.

 “I think they need to do more for all of the cancer patients,” she said.

Sprenkle agrees with the foundation’s work and also wishes others would follow suit.

“I think that it is great, it is things that more people should do,” Sprenkle said. “I think that the community backs all of this, you can see the varieties of people from all over town. Cancer is such a thing that even my mom had it years ago and they are still researching it and there seems like no end to. And anything that can be done to help, especially the children.”

“We can’t think the community enough for all of their support,” added Cathy.