By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
KILDARE — The Packard family has been through a lot in recent years, as their son, Calyn, has been undergoing treatment for childhood cancer. Kildare Public School (KPS) and the larger community have come out in support of the student and his family, showing they are a part of the Kildare community and school. The family has now found a creative way to give back to the community and school recently, sprucing up the garden in front of the school to show not only their love for KPS, but also to bring awareness of childhood cancer.
Originally from Cherokee, Okla., the family spent two years in Gruver, in the Texas Panhandle, before settling on Kaw Lake east of Kildare in 2019. Their children, Calyn and Emy, are students at KPS, with Calyn in first grade, and daughter, Emy, in second grade.
Although the family moved to Kildare in 2019, the past eight months have been spent in Memphis, Tenn., at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
“He’s going through proton therapy, and has done his chemotherapy,” said mother Rhonda Packard.
The school stepped up big while they were gone, sending many gifts to lift the spirits of Calyn and the rest of the family, indicating they were all in their thoughts and prayers.
“While we were gone, the school was very good to stay in touch with him. They sent him cards and letters,” she said. “They made him feel he was still part of the class, and the school.”
The family has been home about three weeks, and Calyn has returned to his class, but only a few hours for a couple of days a week.
The family wanted to give back to the school and community, and soon found a way to repay the love and kindness. A flower garden underneath the KPS sign provided the opportunity.
“Because the school has been so good to work with us, I wanted to do something to give back and I noticed the flower bed needed to be cleaned out,” she said.
The gardening was undertaken Sept. 4 – 8, and in addition to cleaning out the garden, she also planted yellow mums. The yellow color was chosen for cancer awareness.
“Yellow is the color of Childhood Cancer Awareness, and the month of September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, so that is why I chose yellow,” she said.
The KPS third grade class is especially appreciative of the garden, as they can see the flowers.
“We are fairly new to this area, so we don’t know a lot of people, but we got a note from the third grade class because they get to look out their window and see the garden,” she said.
The school is thankful for the gesture.
“She did a good job on making our sign outside look nice. We appreciate the family, and her efforts,” said KPS Superintendent-Principal Bruce Shelley. “We’re glad when he’s here and want to welcome them to this family of ours.”
As for the Packard family, it is simply a special gesture to show the community how important they are in their lives.
“We’re just blessed to have such a wonderful community, a wonderful school,” Packard said.