By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Friends and family gathered at the Campground Volunteer Fire Department on Saturday and they gathered for a purpose.
They were there to show support, both physically and financially, for 16-year-old Treston Rudder, who was diagnosed with Desmoplastic Small Cell Tumors, a rare form of cancer.
Although Rudder showed no symptoms of this fast-moving type of cancer, a routine checkup revealed the news that no parent or family member ever wants to hear.
Friends and family immediately jumped on the bandwagon to support the family in this struggle.
Sue Waggoner, the mother of Rudder’s best friend, worked to secure the Campground Fire Department for Saturday’s fundraiser.
“I was devastated when I heard the news,” Waggoner said. “Treston has been a part of the family since they moved here six or seven years ago.”
Waggoner learned of Rudder’s illness through her son, who was waiting at the doctor’s office when the bad news came.
“I just put myself in Angela (Rudder’s mother) shoes. I knew that if this were my son, I’d want to be there with him and that the treatments would probably all be in Cincinnati, which would require them to stay there,” Waggoner explained. “So I was talking with my daughter and I told her we should do a dinner for them.”
Her daughter, Staci Allen, liked the idea and between Waggoner, Allen and April Bowling, the trio of women collected items for a silent auction, a bake sale, T-shirts for sale, and a hot dog and chili dinner.
“It just escalated,” Waggoner said. “I never dreamed it would be so big.”
Waggoner said the benefit was posted on Facebook and word spread rapidly and generated much interest.
Waggoner describes Rudder as her “fourth child” because he and her son have been close friends for so many years.
“He has stayed all night and even calls me his second mom,” Waggoner said. “I’m not a part of the family, but I was honored and humbled to do this for them.”