DUCK WEEK began in 2004 when a group of high school student council members wanted to start a charity week as a community service project. Little did they know exactly how much they would be impacting a community…the Piedmont community. They came up with the acronym DUCK which stands for Doing Unselfish Charities for Kids. Their first year of fundraising efforts consisted of a small group of student council members trying to raise money to support a very worthy charity. They teamed up with the Make-A-Wish foundation to help a child in our community, Daniel Lehew, who was suffering from Neuroblastoma. They were very excited to raise around $13,000 that first year to help send Daniel to Disney World. His family was never so grateful to have received this gift as these were some of the last moments of Daniel’s life.
Although the student council members raised only a small amount of money, the amount of pride they felt after impacting Daniel’s life was immeasurable. So much so that they vowed to make the following year even better and get more people involved so that they too could experience that feeling of helping change someone’s life.
The next year, 2005, the students once again teamed with Make-A-Wish to grant a wish to an Okarche youth by the name of Kelli Watkins. Kelli was diagnosed with and battling Ewing’s Sarcoma. This year the student council got other high school students involved and were able to raise $16,500 for Kelli to be able to go to Hawaii. This year was also the year in which the students started selecting themes for each year, Kelli’s year was 00Duck …Mission Hawaii; a parody of Agent 007.
In 2006, our charity event became unique. The student council members were looking at different charities to support and trying to decide whether they would once again use their DUCK WEEK to support Make-A-Wish or give to a different charity. While trying to make this decision, they had heaving hearts for a young lady at our high school who was battling liver cancer. Keeley Cornelson was a junior at our high school and was scheduled to fly to Delaware where her dad was going to give her a part of his liver so that his daughter would have a chance at survival. This is when the students made one of the most defining decisions of our organization. They chose for the funds of DUCK WEEK to go directly to one of our own. The Cornelson family was given the funds from DUCK WEEK to help make this rare opportunity become a reality.
From this point on, our students made the decision that they wanted to continue to help change the lives of those in our own community. Year after year, more students wanted to get involved and by the year 2008, every student in the Piedmont District from Pre-K to Seniors join together to help those in need. Listed below are the themes and recipients since the inception of DUCK WEEK.
CELEBRATING OUR 10TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Theme: DUCK WEEK DYNASTY
With 2013 being our tenth anniversary of DUCK WEEK, the students chose to try and make this year bigger and better than ever to be able to help more than one recipient. Thanks to the help of Jase and Missy Robertson from A&E’s Duck Dynasty,we were able to make that wish a reality. The recipients of DUCK WEEK generally are kids in our community that are in great medical need. This year, when our students were given the list of nominations for recipients they immediately noticed that there were some very special adults this year that needed our help in the worst way. Since the decision of the DUCK WEEK recipient is, and has always been, a decision that is chosen solely by the students, they had a very daunting task ahead of them. After spending days looking at all aspects of each nomination’s situation and assessing their needs, the students felt confident in the decision that they had made to choose not only multiple recipients, but to choose some very special adults as our recipients this year. These adults are not just members of our community, they are individuals who have a direct impact on our kids. Meet the 2013 DUCK WEEK recipients:
Custodian at Piedmont Intermediate School
Cook at Northwood Elementary School
Husband of Anita Garnand, a 2nd grade teacher at Piedmont Elementary School
After experiencing severe abdominal pain for the entire month of September and her third emergency room visit, it was discovered that Carrie had pancreatic cancer. In early October, Carrie had a surgery to remove her tumor called a Whipple Resection where they remove about 30% of the pancreas, gall bladder, part of the lower stomach, and part of the small intestine. At that time, the prognosis looked promising but challenges were ahead to recover from the surgery and endure chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Unfortunately, in January, Carrie began to have symptoms that the cancer had infiltrated her liver and this was soon confirmed. Currently, Carrie has begun a different type of chemo that takes three days every two weeks and we are praying the cancer will respond to the new aggressive type of chemo. She will continue chemo as long as the results are positive.
Carrie is married and has three daughters who attend Piedmont schools. Avery is a senior at Piedmont High School, Maci is an 8th grader at Piedmont Middle School, and Lillie is a 6th grader at Piedmont Intermediate School. Carrie is a Junior and Senior English teacher at the high school and as her husband, I am sometimes confused whether she is talking about her “kids” at school or her “kids” at home. She truly lives to teach…when she is not playing tennis or attending her “kids” sporting events. Carrie is a breast cancer survivor since 2005 and says “I beat this once and I’m going to beat it again!”
“We truly feel like God has his hand in everything that has transpired since September, including the discovery of cancer, the unbelievable outpouring of love, help, and prayers, and the humbling honor to be a Duck Week recipient. Lastly, we would like to thank the entire Piedmont community and people for everything they have done and continue to do for our family.”
– Carrie Attalla
David first became ill in October 2011. His Doctor told him that he had an upper respiratory infection, ear infection, and enlarged lymph nodes. When he could not get better, testing was started and they found he had very low WBC. This is when the visits to many specialists began. During this time, David was constantly fighting different infections like sinus, throat, ear, respiratory, digestive and many others along with MRSA staff on his skin. He also experienced migraines and severe nose bleeds (for this, he had the blood vessels in his nose cauterized). Many times we would think that the answer had been found but it never was.
In October 2012, David was sent to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. He spent 3 weeks there seeing different specialists and having many tests run. The answer that came from the Cleveland Clinic was that even in 2012 they do not have a name for every disease or disorder. David’s Oncologist who referred him to the Cleveland Clinic and now to the National Institute of Health has his diagnosis as an “Undefined Immune Disorder” meaning his immune system is not functioning correctly. Since they cannot find the cause, there is no real answer on how to fix this. Several pills and a high protein diet was their suggestion and they would continue to work on his case and try and find answers. Many times more blood work would be ordered by Doctors hoping something would show up to give clues to find the source of the problem. During this time, David continued to see his Doctors here in OKC who help him treat symptoms as best as possible and to function with the continued infections. David receives injections on a regular basis to help him feel better along with daily medication throughout the day.
In July 2014, a tumor was found on David’s Pituitary Gland. This tumor produces hormones so David is taking even more medications to hopefully prevent the tumor from producing these hormones and growing. He is not a good candidate for brain surgery due to the immune disorder, so surgery will not be done at this time. The tumor is to be monitored for growth which could begin pressing against his optic nerve. Recently, David has experienced muscle convulsions and twitching which he has been told is due to the tumor.
In December 2014, the National Institute of Health in Maryland accepted David as a patient. At the beginning of January 2015, they requested blood work be sent to them and they will run DNA tests that take 2 to 4 months. When they are done with the testing they will have David go to their facilities in Maryland for treatment to begin. They are trying to find out what has caused David’s immune system to not function correctly and to hopefully find a way to fix this or have some kind of treatment to increase the immune system function.
David is the husband of Karri Bigelow. Karri is a secretary at Stone Ridge Elementary. They have two daughters who attend Piedmont Schools. Kinzie is a sophomore at Piedmont High School and Kylie is an 8th grader at Piedmont Middle School. Karri also works in the Stone Ridge Clubhouse program.
“This is such a blessing and honor to be selected as a Duck Week recipient. It is amazing to watch the community come together to bless families in their time of need. Your generosity will impact my family in so many ways.”
– David Bigelow
is 35 and was diagnosed with stage 2 grade 3 triple positive breast cancer on 9-5-2014. She has been married to her husband Michael Todd for 16 years, and has 2 kids, Blake Todd 15, who is a freshman at Piedmont high school, and Kyleigh Todd who is a 4th grader at Piedmont elementary. Kristen works at Integris family care Memorial West and Michael is a firefighter with Midwest City. They have lived in Piedmont for a little over 3 years.
Her journey began at the end of August 2014 when she was taking a shower and noticed a lump in her breast. After diet and exercise she lost had lost about 50 lbs so she thought it was just fatty deposits. After visiting with a group of doctors where she works, they agreed that she needed to have ultrasound. She went in on 8-28-2014 for what she thought was just an ultrasound to tell her everything was ok turned into her worst nightmare. They did more tests and told her they wanted to do a biopsy to confirm but they were 99 % sure it was cancer. They had her come back the following Tuesday for a breast biopsy and then come back that Friday for results. They prayed for that 1% chance of it being benign but it was cancer! She had a lumpectomy and they removed 5 lymph nodes and confirmed it was an aggressive cancer that had spread to her lympnodes. Her blood work showed she had triple positive breast cancer. She had her first chemo treatment 10-29-2014 and had her 6th treatment of what she calls “bad chemo” on 2-5-2015. She will start radiation in a couple of weeks and will go every day for 6 weeks and has 11 more treatments of the herceptin that goes in her port. Her prognosis is very good at 99%.
“The support I have received from my family and friends has been amazing. The day after my diagnoses people had made Team Kristen shirts, bracelets, and dog tags, it was just incredible! I feel so blessed to be a recipient of Duck week 2015, I am so honored! Words can’t express the way it makes me feel! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
– Kristen Todd
Before she was a year old, Avienne began to have abnormal bleeding. At her one-year wellness visit, the doctor determined she was slightly anemic. Still, doctors first tried to reason the bleeding as being caused by a common problem among toddlers, and one that would resolve itself. They did not connect the anemia to the bleeding.
The bleeding not only continued, but also worsened, and Avienne became so severely anemic that she began losing her hair. Avi’s family became persistent in looking for an answer. The next two and a half years seemed like a constant battle—test after test for Avienne, including multiple blood draws and invasive medical procedures. Finally, a doctor ordered a surgical consult for a physical symptom that developed as a result of the then-unidentified underlying condition. When the surgeon examined Avienne under anesthesia, he realized that the “symptom” was not what they expected—in fact, none of the surgeons in the OR had seen anything like it.
The surgeon ordered an MRI, and finally, more than two and a half years after Avi’s ordeal began—and only a week after her third birthday—she had a diagnosis.
Avienne was diagnosed in November 2015 with a rare vascular malformation involving her veins and lymphatic system. Her condition is rare not only in that combined vascular malformations are rare, but also in the location and extent of her venous lymphatic malformation.
The malformation reaches from her lower spine downward and branches into both hips. Because of this branching, treatment is complicated. Physicians in Oklahoma consulted colleagues around the nation to try to find a minimally invasive treatment option, but the complexity of her condition was outside the realm of their experience and capability. Finally, in early December, Avienne’s physicians sent her medical records to the world-renowned experts at the Vascular Anomalies Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. These medical experts are in the process of reviewing her case to make recommendations; the family has been informed that Avienne will more likely than not have to travel to Boston for treatment, which will likely include surgery and perhaps multiple surgeries over the course of her life. If left untreated, the condition could lead to further complications, including the risk of hemorrhage.
Emily L. Carney
Emily Carney was diagnosed with Spastic Dysplasia, a form of cerebral palsy, shortly after birth. This diagnosis came about after several physical developmental milestones were missed. Emily specifically showed delays in crawling and walking.
From the very beginning of her life, Emily started receiving many different physical therapies. She has never known a day without some form of stretching activities and physical therapy. After school Emily either goes to The Children’s Center in Bethany for physical therapy or to the OU Allied Health Center for robotic gait training on the Lokomat. She receives physical therapy at school twice a week. The physical therapy strengthens her muscles and helps her perform tasks that most people take for granted. Emily also goes to the Shriners Children’s Hospital in Shreveport, LA every six months to evaluate her leg braces (AFO’s) and her mobility.
Emily has undergone several MRI’s under sedation. Due to her spasticity she has to get frequent radiographs to monitor the rotation of her bones. She recently took a trip to the Gillette clinic in St. Paul, Minnesota to see if she was a candidate for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy or SDR. She underwent several days of testing to determine that she was an ideal candidate for the surgery. Emily will be getting the SDR surgery at the end of the school year. Her mother and sister will relocate to Minnesota while Emily undergoes the 6 weeks of intense physical therapy after the surgery. Emily will have to learn how to crawl and walk all over again during this period. When she gets home Emily will have to utilize a wheelchair for mobility and will graduate to a walker over time. She will also be required to get physical therapy five times a week for at least six months after surgery. While the SDR procedure is not a cure, it will limit the amount of damage being done to her bones and could reduce the need for future more invasive surgeries.
Emily is the five year old daughter of David and Melody Carney. She has one sister named Cassidy who is three years old. Emily attends school at Piedmont Primary School and will attend Stone Ridge Elementary next year. Currently, there is no known cure for Cerebral Palsy but Emily perseveres with a smile on her face and touches the heart of everyone she meets.