Music from the heart

Batson family, community team up to battle leukemia

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— Sean Batson said he is going to play his flute for his 9-year-old brother, Galen, and all the children when he visits the Children's Hospital in Denver where Galen has been receiving treatments for leukemia. Deb Batson, mother of the children, said Sean lifts Galen's spirits by playing with him and hanging out during chemotherapy treatments, but will also help him recover by being the bone marrow donor for the transplant Galen will need.

"Sean thinks it is a great way to be able to help," said Batson. She her daughter, Kelsey, wished she could have been the donor, but Sean was the perfect match for the transplant.

The bone marrow transplant Galen will need that is scheduled for the end of June, is a procedure that may not be covered by the family's insurance and will require Galen and one of his parents to stay with him in Denver up to six months after the procedure.

Deb Batson said it's been financially hard living in two places. She said the support she has received from the community has been amazing.

The emotional and financial struggle being placed on the family is something that many locals want to help to alleviate.

"They're a wonderful family and have given so much to the community. We are just aching to give back to them," said Martha Gallagher, organizer for the Music From the Heart Benefit Concert for Galen.

Gallagher said she hopes Galen and his siblings will get to perform in the event June 7 if the family isn't in Denver for one of Galen's treatments.

In addition to the concert, dinner and desert will be provided and sold to benefit the Batson Family Fund.

Gallagher said many residents came to see Sean perform with his flute that was part of his regular orchestra lessons. She said all three of the children play instruments and are musically talented.

"There are a lot of people very supportive of the family and anxious to do more," she said.

Judy Ross, fifth grade teacher, said she became acquainted with the Batson family through the Winter Sports Club and took it upon herself to create a workday that she and her students could use to generate funds to help the family.

"Within their own community they can show compassion and help someone their own age," she said. Ross said the workday will involve all fifth-graders who will seek out work at local businesses and for individual people for the day of May 23.

"I'm really glad we're doing this for Galen and I think it will be fun and I hope he gets better," said Justin Bauder, a fifth-grader.

Ross said students were really empathetic and excited to be able to help. "I think Galen will be really happy that so many people in our community really care for him," said Elise Anderson, fifth-grader.

The work students complete will be awarded with a donation to go to the Batson family for all the living expenses that will be incurred during Galen's bone marrow transplant.

"It's hard to receive help, but we are extremely grateful," said Batson. "I hope we get a chance to help the community," she said.

Batson said she has been spending her time with her son, putting her job on hold.

"I need to focus on my kids and my other two kids who need support," she said.

She said Galen still plays his instruments and does his school work at home, activities she is glad he still wants to do while he is receiving weekly chemotherapy treatments.

"He is tolerating the treatments really well," said Batson.

Galen, Sean and Kelsey are all home taught which gives the family a little more flexibility. She said Galen's father, David, will help take care of the Kelsey and Sean when Galen needs to stay in Denver. She said for the first six weeks Galen will be in the hospital, but after that time he will no longer stay in the hospital but will have three to four weekly checkups at the Children's Hospital for up to four months. Extra precaution and medical attention is needed after the transplant to prevent Galen from infection or from rejecting his transplant.

The upcoming challenge of relocating to Denver and making sure Galen is well taken care of is something Batson is trying to get prepared for.

Batson said she has some friends in Denver who offered her and Galen a place to stay.

"We will cross that road when we get to it," she said.

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