UPDATE: Fundraiser held for Elkhorn City woman recovering after bone marrow transplant

By: Hillary Thornton Email
By: Hillary Thornton Email
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - UPDATE 11/9/13

Elkhorn City mail carrier, Rita Childers, is home after receiving a life saving bone marrow transplant. However, she still has a long road ahead until she is completely recovered and her community continues to 'Rally for Rita'.

Elkhorn City was filled with orange on Saturday as folks gathered to rally for their friend, Rita.

Mayor Mike Taylor says, "In our community when anybody is sick people reach out to help no matter who it is and that makes my heart boil over with love for people in this town."

Helping raise money for medical bills, showing support, and lifting Childers up with encouraging words....the community is a part of each step on her journey.

Childers' sister, Sharon Rowe says, "They have showed their love and support not just because they love Rita but also they really want to help her. It just shows the great bond we have here in this community. We are a small community but we are a strong community."

Folks say Saturday's event shows that even though Childers received her transplant and is back home, they continue to rally around her as she is still in the fight for her life.

Rowe says, "She's still got a hard road, she's got a long way to go....and this is the community letting her know, hey we've not forgotten about you."

Anna Robinson, says they will continue to support Rita, "Because we love her, we love her, and we want to see her get well."

While she can't be out in large crowds, Childers was able to lead the walk held in her honor by riding in the car with her husband.

Childers says, "It is just exciting to be out of the house again and see all of your community, friends, and family...makes you grin really big."

A community Childers and her family are thankful for. "So many prayers have gone up on her behalf and we know his blessings are great...it shows in these friends that's one of God's greatest gifts is your friends," explains Rowe.

As those prayers and friends are what keeps her fighting. "They are boosters, my booster shots," says Childers.

Childers will spend the next several months recovering and doctors say it will be one to two years before she is back in good health.

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UPDATE 11/7/13
Elkhorn City mail carrier, Rita Childers, was in need of a bone marrow transplant and just a few weeks ago received what she calls her new chance at life.

Childers is now back home in Pike County, walking down the halls of the Pikeville Medical Leonard Lawson Cancer Center for a routine check-up.

"I knew it was going to be a hard process but I was prepared and I knew what to expect," says Childers.

Childers says she found the strength to fight and stay positive from her community, "The days I was my sickest, I would get a text or a picture of some group in Elkhorn wearing their 'Support Rita' tshirts...it meant a lot."

In the hospital in Lexington for only 15 days after her transplant, Childers says she has been given a new life, "I am like a new baby, I'm on about day 17."

A short 17 days old, and thankful to her own sister, Sharon, for giving her new life.

Now that she is back home, both Childers and her sister say they hope their story sends a message and helps save another life.

Sharon Rowe says, "I'm not going to say it is not a little bit uncomfortable but that little bit of discomfort and little bit of time, the five days I gave, Rita may now have a lifetime to spend with her family...that is a blessing."

Both Childers and Rowe agree that their community and faith helped make this possible. "We have a strong community. Cities may look at us as mountain people, but us mountain people are strong and help one another."

Childers adds, "I want people to be strong and encourage one another, life is too short and too hard to not do that."

As these two sisters are walking examples of each word on their tshirts...determination, hope, faith, family, support, and love.

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UPDATE 9/5/13

Employees at the Elkhorn City Post Office have a mission to find, Rita Childers, a bone marrow match. Childers is battling myelodysplastic syndrome.

Tina Swiney says, "We love her, here in Elkhorn City the people we work with are more than just people we work with, they are family and we love each other."

A difficult mission but one they say they are honored to do, and are now one step closer to their goal.

"If praying is helping find a match, then we have done that because there has not been a day go by that we have not prayed," explains Swiney.

A match was found about three weeks ago. Initially, doctors did not want to use siblings but Childers says as her situation became more urgent they decided to proceed with her sister.

Swiney says, "The type of person she is she was more concerned about what they were going to have to go through."

Childers and her sister are in Lexington for preliminary tests in hopes of scheduling a transplant within the next few weeks.

"These things still are not definite, we are hoping and don't anticipate any problems, but it is not a very steady process. So I am a bit anxious to get all this done, and I'm willing to get worse to get better," says Childers.

Still a long road with uncertainty ahead, friends continue to encourage folks to 'Rally for Rita' and get tested.

"We just want her well again. Sometimes you don't realize why things happen to good people like, Rita, who work so hard," says Swiney.

As they continue to fight alongside their friend and are inspired by her strength and concern for others.

"I've been blessed through all of this. So many people have done things and put themseves out there for me to get to this point and I'm extremely grateful. You know if it does not help me, it is going to help somebody," says Childers.

For information on how to be tested and placed on the registry visit the link below or stop by the Elkhorn City Post Office.

Monetary donations may be sent to: Rally for Rita Childers, C/O Community Trust Bank, P.O. Box 740, Elkhorn City, Ky. 41522
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ORIGINAL STORY 7/29/13

A Pike County mail carrier is in need of a bone marrow transplant. Now, her coworkers are rallying around her to find a match and hopefully save her life.

Step inside the Elkhorn City Post Office and you will not just see envelopes and packages. You will see an outpouring of love for one of the communities beloved mail carriers, Rita Childers, who is battling myelodysplastic syndrome and is now in need of a bone marrow transplant.

Postmaster Diane Gray says, "It has gotten to the point where it attacks her blood so much that her blood can't keep up, to the point where just last week she had to go into the hospital overnight for a transfusion."

That has not kept Childers off her mail route, doing the job she has loved for twenty years and where she says her customers are now like family.

Employees at the Elkhorn City Post Office say just as Childers has a daily mission of delievering the mail, they now have a mission to find her a match.

With the help of Elkhorn City Mayor, Mike Taylor, they are organizing a registry drive.

Taylor says, "Doing it because I love her, it's a community thing, and it is the love that the people in this community has."

Childers says it is that love that builds her up and gives her strength to fight each day.

"It is very humbling for little ole me...that everybody is doing so much. You know if it doesn't help me, somewhere down the road it could save somebody elses life...that is very special."

A community determined to find a match and lighten this mail carrier's load.

Taylor says hundreds of testing kits are currently on their way from Cleveland, Ohio.

Elkhorn City Officials will be hosting a bone marrow test drive on Friday, August 2nd, beginning at 8:00 a.m. at City Hall. Officials say all you have to do is swab the inside of your cheek.

All postal workers and relatives of postal workers will be tested for free. Everyone else will pay $25, officials say this is a discounted rate from the standard $100 testing fee.

If you cannot attend the drive, you can contact Mike Taylor or the Elkhorn City Post Office and they will deliver a testing kit to you.

Mike Taylor (606) 213-1720
Elkhorn City Post Office (606) 754-4685

Monetary donations may be sent to: Rally for Rita Childers, C/O Community Trust Bank, P.O. Box 740, Elkhorn City, Ky. 41522.


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