By LORI PINELLI - For the Star Beacon
Two young girls, Bailey Dickson of Dorset and Jillian Butte of Andover, are showing others the true meaning of friendship and courage. Jillian, 8, was diagnosed with ependymoma, cancer of the brain and spine in September 2011. After having a large brain tumor removed in 2011 and several small ones in 2013, Jillian is still battling the cancer.
Five-year-old Bailey decided to support her friend by donating her long, beautiful hair for a wig in May. While the wig will not go directly to Jillian, Bailey’s hair will be donated to Wigs for Kids. Bailey is also raising money for the American Cancer Society.
Family friend, Rachel Blevins, of Ashtabula, started a fund-raising campaign with the girls online at www.gofundme.com. Blevins said she has known Bailey and Jillian since they were born because their parents are close family friends.
“Jillian has been absolutely amazing throughout this battle,” Blevins said. “She has managed to fight through and overcome everything that has been put before her, and it’s always with a smile on her face. She is such a fighter and has already overcome more than most people face in their lifetime. I think Jillian inspires everyone she meets. She is a constant reminder that no matter what life may throw at you, you can overcome.”
The three families support others by participating in a Relay for Life team in Jamestown, Pa. and run a 5K in Washington, D.C. that raises money for the American Brain Tumor Association.
Blevins said that a friend suggested using GoFundMe to raise funds for Jillian.
“It has been an awesome resource to make donating simple. We have had people from all over the country donate; even several anonymous donors,” she said. “I am working closely with Bailey and her mom, Lisa, in the fundraising effort. We give Bailey updates when someone donates money and read her all the wonderful comments people have left for her. The money raised on our GoFundMe page is going to the American Cancer Society, but we have several other fundraisers in the works to support Jillian directly.”
On gofundme.com, well-wishers may search “Jillian’s Angels” to find Bailey’s hair donation page. A text link on the page, reading “Donate directly to Jillian’s family” allows supporters to help with the family’s large medical expenses.
Other businesses and organizations have stepped up to support Jillian and her family, as well. Community Care is hosting a reverse raffle to benefit Jillian on May 31 at the Jefferson fairgrounds in the 4-H building. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., dinner served at 6:30 p.m. Director of the event, Myra Brown, said there will be a silent auction and a Chinese auction. The event is sponsored by Community Care of Andover with proceeds going to the Butte family. For tickets call 440-223-0701.
“Jillian is so appreciative of the support others are giving her and she never asks for anything,” Brown said. “Her mother takes time to do things for other people all the time. They are an amazing family.”
Covered Bridge Pizza in Andover is collecting donations. Intimidation Clothing is helping by selling “Intimidate Cancer” t- shirts with a “Jillian’s Angels” logo on the back. These t-shirts are available at intimidationclothing.com. Silk ‘n’ Treasures in Ashtabula is donating funds and giving out special angel pins to customers who spend at least $20.
Blevins thanks everyone who has donated to any fundraiser.
Jillian’s mom, Jessie Buttes, created a Facebook page, entitled “I am Jillian Hear Me Roar,” to update those who are following Jillian’s journey. There are over 1,000 “likes” for the page and many comments of encouragement. The posts left by Jillian’s mom are often poignant.
Recently she wrote, “It’s a struggle everyday not knowing what the future holds for your family. But (I am) praying and having faith it will all work out!!! She (Jillian) is tough and will be beat this… Hug your loved ones tight... Always show them they are loved for you never know what the future holds.”