The Wisconsin chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society announced Matthew King the Honored Hero of its 2011 Scenic Shore 150 Bike Tour. The 19th annual two day, 150 mile bike ride takes place each summer to raise money for cancer research and patient services.
In August 2010, Matthew King was diagnosed with leukemia. Four year old Matt was visiting at an aunt’s house when he started crying in pain and complaining of stomach pains. Concerned, Matt’s mom Jenni, took Matt to the ER where he was given an IV and had his blood drawn. At first the doctors weren’t concerned. They noted that Matt had an enlarged spleen, but suspected mono; one doctor even suggested it was constipation. Then the blood results came in. Matt’s potassium levels were high and his white blood cell count was 316,000. A normal count is 10,000-15,000—little Matt had leukemia. Matt’s parents where in shock. “Who expects that kind of news?” Jenni said. “It changed our lives FOREVER!”
And so it did. Almost seven months later, Matt’s normal four-year-old life has been turned upside down. Trips to the zoo have been cancelled and replaced with frequent trips to Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee where little Matt receives regular chemotherapy. “The treatment is tough, but Matt is handling it pretty well,” Jenni said, “He has lost his hair, is neutropenic most of the time, and now has a feeding tube, but has not experienced any serious infections or side effects.”
Despite receiving rounds of chemotherapy, Matt still enjoys the typical things of a four year old. His favorite food is macaroni and cheese; he likes dinosaurs and watching cartoons, plays computer games, and wants to be a cowboy when he grows up. Matt’s only wish is that he didn’t have to go through all of this, and he would love to meet another child “like him.”
Matt is surrounded by a close-knit family and enjoys the love and support of his younger sisters Rebecca (age 3) and Angela (6 months). The Kings live in East Troy, and are surrounded by loving family and friends who support them and help them cope with emotional side of Matt’s disease. “Matt has some very emotional times,” said Jenni, “but he is a fighter!”
The Kings are looking forward to the Scenic Shore 150, and are excited that Matt has been selected Honored Hero. “It should be a really great experience for Matt!” Jenni said. “We are very happy that they (LLS) are available if we need them and are thrilled with the improvements in survival rates through extensive research.”
Over 75% of Scenic Shore 150 donations directly support LLS and its funding for blood cancer research. Since the first funding in 1954, LLS has invested more than $750 million in blood cancer research. In the last 49 years, LLS funded research has helped quadruple the survival rate for leukemia patients.
The Scenic Shore 150 will take place July 23rd and 24th. The ride takes cyclers through some of the most scenic roads in the state. Starting in Mequon, WI and finishing in Sturgeon Bay, WI, riders cycle along Lake Michigan’s shoreline and enjoy a volunteer supported route with rest stops, bicycle support, and other amenities.
“This is an exciting thing to look forward to,” Jenni said. “Even though it would be better to just be a part of it and not have Matt fighting leukemia.”
To find out more about forming a team or participating in The Scenic Shore 150, contact Jennifer Gradkoski at email@example.com or www.lls.org/wi/ss150.
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