Sassers lead fundraising efforts for childhood cancer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Christy and Justin Sasser are hoping they can attend this Friday’s Relay for Life event after missing the last two due to ongoing Leukemia treatments their now-4-year-old son, Cooper, was undergoing at the time.

Cooper Sasser, 4, is a leukemia survivor.

Cooper Sasser, 4, is a leukemia survivor.

“We have been invited to the supper and some other things,” Christy Sasser said. “We do Relay for Life every year, but I wasn’t able to take Cooper for the last two.”

But this year, Christy said her son, who was diagnosed with leukemia at only 19 months, is doing much better and will take his final dose of chemotherapy in September.

“Cooper does chemo every three months, but we take oral chemo every day,” Christy said.

With their sights set on being a part of next year’s Relay for Life Survivors Walk, Christy said their young son has come a very long way in a very short amount of time.

“When we found out he was sick, we were worried, because we work for ourselves, so we just had basic insurance,” she said. Christy added that things were initially so tight that her family considered selling the home they had only recently purchased.

“People were like, ‘No, you don’t need to sell his home,’” Christy said. “This community has been absolutely fabulous. The help just flowed in. We had people knocking on our door at eight or nine at night wanting to help.”

Motivated largely by the spirit of that generosity, Christy said her family has spent much of the past two years working with organizations like Relay for Life and Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer to help raise money for the fight against the disease.

“Cancer doesn’t discriminate,” she said. “It affects people of all ages, but my heart is really with pediatric cancer research, for obvious reasons. When we got to the place where our medical bills became manageable, I told my husband I wanted to help other families with children that have been diagnosed.”

And that’s exactly what the Sassers have been doing through events like their annual Color Run in the fall, as well as an annual beauty pageant, which will be held this year in June at LBW in Andalusia

“I want to give back a little bit of what has been given to us,” she said, adding Friday’s Relay event is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who wants to help with the fight.

“I think Relay is a great organization,” she said.

And for Cooper, Christy said his future is looking bright due to the kinds of research Relay and other organizations help fund.

“The type of cancer he has, the success rate is so much better than it was just 50 years ago,” Christy said. “Childhood cancer research has come a very long way. That’s why we want to help, because every child is important.”

Christy said, since 2011, their local fundraising, Cooper’s kids, efforts have allowed them to donate more than $32,000 to pediatric cancer research.

“Literally, when I get the money, we disperse it out to other families and 90 percent on every dollar goes straight to pediatric cancer,” she said.

Christy said her prayer is that her family’s support for cancer research will extend far beyond her son’s own battle with the disease.

“He will have regular screenings after September, but we’re just believing in the Lord that we are done with our cancer journey,” she said.

Four-year-old Cooper also has an 8-year-old sister, Kennedy.