You want to put your arm around them – after wiping away your own tears — and tell them, “You’re doing great work.”
After all, Carrie and Ed Bland lost their 3 ½-year-old son, Landan, to a brain tumor in August 2012. And yet, remarkably, the couple turned tragedy into tribute by creating an Ozarks-based non-profit called Landan’s LegOcy. It financially assists cancer-stricken kids and their families — families such as the Robertsons of Springfield.
Just last October, Cub Robertson was diagnosed with leukemia. He was 5, and in kindergarten.
“There have been moments when it’s hard. He asked me if he is going to die, and it’s not something you ever thought you’d have to explain,” Mom Marilyn said. “As a parent, you have to be as truthful but as positive as you can be. Because if I am strong, I feel like he’ll be strong, too.”
Fortunately, Landan’s LegOcy was strong for their family by covering non-medical payments, and now the public can help the non-profit expand its reach. Landan’s is a first-year member of this year’s Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper, a PGA Web.com Tour event that has raised almost $12 million in the past 17 years.
More on Landan’s in a minute, but first here’s how to help:
SUPPORTING THE PCCC = SUPPORTING CHARITIES
- HELP LANDAN’S LEGOCY: The non-profit helps cover bills so families can concentrate on their cancer-stricken child. Email Landan’s at teamLandan@landanslegocy.org.
- BUSINESS SPONSORSHIPS: Businesses can support the PCCC through various sponsorships, such as the daily newsletter, website or through several events such as a dozen Pro-Ams. Call the PCCC staff at 417-887-3400.
- BUSINESSES GIFT CARDS: Restaurants, clothing stores and entertainment stops and such are asked to donate a gift card with at least a $25 value in the name of your charity of choice to benefit them in the Golf Ball Charity Auction.
- FOR GOLF FANS, WIN PRIZES: The purchase of a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket enters you to win daily prizes during the tournament. You’re also entered to win grand prizes of $10,000 and a 2015 Ford Mustang – and you can see the golfers, too. A ticket also serves as a four-day tournament pass.
- TICKET REVENUE GOES WHERE: Contact the local charity of your choice, simply because they receive revenue directly from those TLC Property Charity Sweepstakes tickets marked with their names.
- WHEN, WHERE: The tournament is Aug. 7-17 at Highland Springs Country Club, with the pros playing beginning Aug. 13.
- CONTACT: Call the Price Cutter Charity Championship staff at 417-887-3400.
About Landan’s LegOcy
If you visit the Landan’s LegOcy website, that’s Landan’s photo – the cute kid with the fedora hat. He was born six weeks early but all was fine until March 2012, when medical experts diagnosed the little guy with a brain tumor.
Initially, the tumor was believed to be benign and that a surgery would take care of it. Unfortunately, doctors discovered the cancer was more widespread and diagnosed the tumor as S-PNET, a rare and aggressive type of brain cancer.
A month later, at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., tests showed that Landan also developed an amplification of the N-MYC gene, a genetic marker which meant the tumor was extremely aggressive. In fact, it was the first case of its kind at St. Jude.
Landan kept fighting and even had good days. But the cancer eventually became widespread. Sadly, he passed away on Aug. 29, 2012 just a few weeks before his 4th birthday.
To Carrie and Ed, the hope now is that Landan’s LegOcy can help other families.
The mission statement reads as such: “The Mission of Landan’s LegOcy is helping children and their families on their journey through and beyond childhood cancer. Raising awareness through friendship, fellowship and fundraising. Caring for the needs of few by the generosity of many to make each day special for all.”
Carrie explained why the non-profit, formed in 2013, included the capitalized “O” in the title: Landan loved Legos, and his mom remembers him as a “Lego fanatic.”
“When parents lose a child, that child’s name will be forgotten by others,” Carrie said. “He was a huge Lego fan. Even when he was young, he could put them together at 2.”
Clearly, Landan’s LegOcy comes from the heart. A carnival was planned in September 2012 before Landan’s passing, and the family decided to keep the fundraising event. It hauled in $15,000.
“I told Ed, ‘I don’t think we should take that $15,000 and go on vacation,’” Carrie said. “I wanted to do something special.”
The Robertsons can attest to the good work of Landan’s LegOcy. After all, Marilyn and her husband, Devin, have received important financial assistance since Cub’s diagnosis last fall.
Talk about being put through the ringer. Marilyn took a leave of absence and later had to resign from a job at a Springfield publishing group. She tries to find freelance work to help Devin, another Evangel University graduate, meet the bills.
Still, it’s challenging.
“I had basically no income of my own. We were just hurting financially,” Marilyn said. “But at the very beginning stages, you have tunnel vision. One of my sons’ friends from school, they actually contacted Landan’s LegOcy and said, ‘Hey, I know this family.’”
Marilyn had followed Landan’s LegOcy on Facebook even before Cub was diagnosed and eventually met Carrie.
“It was such a relief not only to have your home taken care of but also to be able visit with someone who walked the journey before,” Marilyn said. “There was just an initial bond.”
Fortunately, Cub appears to be making great progress. He’s scheduled for two more years of treatment but doctors expect him to make a full recovery, his mom said.
That’s not to say there haven’t been scary times. After the initial shock, the family witnessed Cub experiencing a stroke on April 16, followed by five seizures, before doctors also found a blood clot on his brain.
A medication believed to be the cause of the seizures has been dropped by the family, and blood-thinners have reduced the blood clot and avoided surgery.
Overall, the Robertsons are thankful for Cub’s teachers at New Covenant Academy, who initially expressed concern that the kindergartener was looking pale after he already had battled pneumonia. It’s what led to the diagnosis – and then led to Landan’s LegOcy.
“The first day at St. Jude, I called one of my best friends after one doctor said he would make a 96 percent recovery and another doctor said he would make a 90 percent recovery. It was the first time I was very afraid,” Marilyn said. “I didn’t have a full understanding of the situation.”
She went on.
“My friend said to me, ‘Marilyn, he’s going to be OK.’ And she said to me, ‘Just stop for a minute. Imagine what life is going to be like two years from now. What journey do you want him to see?’ The clouds cleared. I want him to be happy. I don’t want him to be a child with cancer. I just want him to be a child. It’s going to be the best we can make it.
“It’s given me a northern point on my compass.”