A Walk for Hope

Andrea Bock
Emery Bock’s Mother and
Second Wind St. Louis Member
September, 2007

As the leaves start to turn, and the weather cools, my children all know that we will be making another trip to St. Louis soon. This trip, however, is very different than the others. It is one that they are happy to wake up early for, and there is much excitement. This year will be our third year at the Second Wind Lung Walk in Forest Park. Oh, the memories we have made.

Our first year, in 2005, was a learning experience, and a huge reminder that miracles DO happen. Emery, (now) age 2 1/2, had been in the PICU at St. Louis Children’s Hospital on a ventilator for months. His condition had worsened and we had made the decision to move forward with transplantation. The social worker had suggested that we take the morning off from the hospital, and spend the day with our three daughters walking in Forest Park. All of the arrangements were made, and we were told to show up at the visitor’s center for a fun family morning.

That night was difficult for Emery and I wondered the next morning if his lungs would come in time, and would he be able to fight through the complications that often come along with transplantation.

The next morning as we began our walk in the park we witnessed the smiles of all the transplant recipients wearing green bandanas. I stood in amazement as I watched one particular man, who donned his bandana, along with a pair of spandex shorts for the big race! My girls had a great time, and played on the playground, and my husband and I found new hope and strength for our future. We returned to the hospital that day with thoughts of our little Emery one day running the race.

Emery endured his trials, and his miracle gift came on January 8, 2006. Some complications followed, and he fought through them all. We made many friends along our transplant journey, and when the brochure about the 2006 lung walk came in the mail, we wanted to give back a little bit of hope.

Our team was called Emery’s Army, in honor of our little soldier who had fought so hard. I emailed everyone I could think of, along with mailing out flyers and posting the information about the walk onto Emery’s website. My girls told their friends at school, of the food, fun, and playground that was at the walk, and how neat it was. I explained in my letters that the walk would go into a fund that would help families, like ours, who were awaiting transplantation, or had already received their gift of life with housing or medical expenses.

The day of the walk came, and once again, I stood in amazement. We had raised over $1,000 in donations, and Emery’s Army had over 50 soldiers. I was so proud to hold our miracle with his very own green bandana. I made little camouflage ribbons for everyone to pin onto their shirts to show what team they belonged to. My daughters carried a big sign that included the signatures of each ‘soldier’.

Later that morning, I was told that a member of Emery’s Army had made a donation in his honor for $2,500. An old family friend whom I hadn’t seen in years had come to the walk. She followed Emery’s story daily via his Website, and wanted to see his smiles in person. I thanked her of course, while setting Emery on her lap. She told me of her own amazement with the event, and that witnessing Emery’s smile and miracle of life had given her hope in her own life. More donations continued to come in, even after the walk. It was an incredible honor to be the mother of a child who was able to touch so many generous hearts.

This year, Emery’s Army hopes to be even bigger, and instill even more hope. Be sure to look on October 20th for the little boy with the bright smile, holding his mommy’s hand at the 2007 Second Wind Lung Walk!