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SUPPORTING THE CAUSE: Slowly but surely, residents come together to save a child

It’s not very often one can dump a five-gallon bucket filled with ice water on your boss and still keep your job, but that’s what happened to Pahrump Town Executive Assistant Stephanie Massimino last week.

Just after 3 p.m., Massimino stood on a stepladder and emptied the entire bucket on Town Manager Susan Holecheck as a few town employees and Town Chair Harley Kulkin looked on with great amusement.

A soaking wet Holecheck took it all in stride and for good reason.

In May, Mikey Welch, a local Hafen Elementary School student, was diagnosed with Leukemia.

His single mother Ashley, raising him alone, lost her job in order to care for the 7-year-old full time.

As a result, local residents and businesses have come together to help the mother and child.

Efforts to raise funds began with a bowl-a-thon at Draft Picks with Dan Schinhofen and his musician friends providing the entertainment.

A fundraiser dubbed the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” held in various locations throughout town, got the attention of Holecheck this week. The principle is simple, individuals are challenged to have the bucket of ice water dumped over their heads, while those wanting to drown the boss contribute $10 per bucket for the young man’s medical bills.

It’s time to step up to the plate and help. Anyone who is challenged but declines is asked to pay $100 to the cause.

“I got called out by our Fire Chief Scott Lewis this week, who accepted the challenge at the Fire Station. It’s not the first time people have suggested that Susan is all wet. I feel like a football coach after his team has won the game. I didn’t hesitate because it’s all for a good cause,” she said.

Last month Mikey was taken to a hospital in Las Vegas. Family friend Amber Lopez said Welch was shocked to learn her son had been living with Leukemia.

“Mikey was diagnosed after he was rushed to Sunrise Children’s Hospital barely able to stay awake. He is friends with my son and shares a classroom every day with him at Hafen. Mikey is your everyday 7-year old boy who loves to play outdoors and read books and he always has a smile on his face,” she said.

Lopez said doctors were baffled at the boy’s resiliency and the fact he was able to attend school and carry out regular activities each day.

She also praised his mother’s willingness to do anything she can for her son.

“This just proves how strong and brave of a little boy he is. Ashley is a single mom and is the sole provider for her and her son. She does not qualify for any assistance because she worked full time but now, she is now unable to work and has nothing to fall back on,” she said.

Additionally, Lopez said the boy will now require an extended hospital stay as well as regular appointments for chemotherapy treatments to battle the disease.

“It is extremely important for her to be able to spend this important time with Mikey each and every minute. In order to accomplish this, she is in need of additional support from any and everyone that is willing to give to this wonderful mother and child,” she said.

Support for Mikey and his mother is gaining momentum as more challenges are extended and fundraisers are being organized.

Desert View Hospital’s (DVH) Kelly Adams extended the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to several employees this week.

Marketing Director/Physician Liaison Meagan Kowalski said Adams is making a donation for this out of his own pocket.

“Kelly is inviting any employees who wish to participate to do the same. We had about 10 buckets of ice water total dumped on Kelly (CEO) and Markeeta (CNO), and the hospital raised $200 for Mikey.

“Just so you know as well — all funds raised are directly from the hospital employees themselves — they all did this on a personal level and we just orchestrated the event.” she said.

Challenges aside, one local business is also supporting the family.

Miranda Taylor from AmeriGas at 31 E. Wilson Road, said when the company first learned of the family’s situation, they felt compelled to act.

“AmeriGas has a program called Community Care, where we collect the delivery tickets from our customers and every gallon that is on those collected tickets AmeriGas will donate .02 per gallon back to the community. The funding is limited to $2,000. All they have to do is turn in their delivery tickets. If they wish to mail the tickets to the local office, we would accept that as well,” she said.

Taylor also said a raffle is underway where donations can earn prizes.

“We have an employee by the name of Marion Field, who has graciously donated a brand new eight-inch Samsung galaxy tablet that we are able to raffle off. All money raised in the selling of these raffle tickets will be donated directly to Mikey and his mom. Tickets are on sale at our local AmeriGas office. Prices are $2 for one ticket and $5 for three tickets,” she said.

Next month, a spaghetti dinner and auction is scheduled at the Maverick Saloon on July 12, at 5:30 p.m.

Call 751-9988 to get information on advance ticket purchases. The cost is $20 and attendees must be at least 21 to enter. The Wretched Soul Kids will provide live entertainment.

An account has also been set up for the family at Nevada State Bank.

Those interested in contributing, the account number is 252017256.

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