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Meet ASK Kid Gavin

"I had equal amounts of fear and anxiety watching him... praying to God that this was not his last race," shares ASK mom Jenny, thinking back to the bittersweet moment she watched her son, Gavin, catch up to the pack and finish first at his swim meet. The next day, he would undergo a biopsy for the mass growing in his right leg and begin the race for his life.

"Gavin was very active, into sports. Baseball, swimming, and just any other active 10-year-old thing you can imagine," says Russ, Gavin's dad.

"He started to complain of having pain in his right leg, but it would come and go. He would have moments where it hurt and then an hour later he was running around like nothing was wrong."

Soon, his intermittent pain became overwhelming. Gavin's pediatrician urged Jenny and Russ to rush their son to the emergency room, terrified and unsure of what to expect. He would have a series of tests that revealed a tumor, and soon after, received the official diagnosis of Ewing Sarcoma in July 2023.

"Once we got the Ewing Sarcoma diagnosis, the next day he started treatment. We didn't know that morning we were going to hear every side effect that was going to happen to him. It was one of the hardest days," Jenny recalls. "This is one of those examples of how ASK knows what we need before we need it... Katie Barber snatched up Gavin with a smile and said, 'Let's go play Uno!'"

Along with Katie, the Yonce's would meet Rich Catlett, ASK Chaplain, and Anne and Leanne, members of the clinic team at the ASK Hematology/Oncology Clinic at the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Every day, they provide a hand to hold for kids and families like Gavin's as they navigate the emotional, spiritual and financial challenges that come with a cancer diagnosis.

"ASK has always known what we needed before we needed it. We didn't know how we were going to make ends meet and they jumped in and said, 'We'll pay your mortgage. We'll pay your bills,'" Jenny explains. "Jon is another person who jumps in for our homebound. Our homebound has been phenomenal because his teachers are angels, but Jon helps get that paperwork through and makes sure that's one less thing on our plates... ASK has become our community."

In October 2023, Gavin underwent rotationplasty surgery to amputate his right leg. It was a difficult decision, but one that would, eventually, help Gavin get back to the things he loved in life: sports, being active, playing with his brothers, Charlie and Luca.

Jenny shares how deeply grateful she is for ASK Chaplain, Rich Catlett, who was by Gavin's side during those early morning hours on the day of the surgery, praying over him and the surgeons.

"Rich Catlett was another constant for Gavin, who he connected to and felt at ease with. He came in with a smile and could judge if Gavin was up for some sports talk that day or not. He talked about Virginia Tech sports while Gav couldn’t attend the games he usually goes to," Jenny shares.

"Rich was always a listening ear for my husband and me. He gave us encouragement and support in the hardest moments. We will always be grateful for Rich supporting our family." - ASK mom Jenny

A few months after his surgery, Gavin regained enough strength to start learning how to walk again using a prosthetic leg. On February 18, 2024, the Yonce family celebrated Gavin's final day of cancer treatment with a parade in their neighborhood, where their friends and neighbors lined the streets to surround him with love and support. We're happy to report that in March 2024, Gavin's one-month-out scans came back clear and cancer-free!

"It changes who you are. We're all going to be different people because of it. But I think we'll be stronger as a family and stronger in our community," Jenny reflects.

"No one wants to live in this world, but once you're there, you need the support and to be able to lean on people... there's power in knowing you're not the only one and that you're not alone, and that's what ASK gives him."


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