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Child with Autism, Down Syndrome overcomes cancer with help from Child Cancer Fund
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Child with Autism, Down Syndrome overcomes cancer with help from Child Cancer Fund

Child with Autism, Down Syndrome overcomes cancer with help from Child Cancer Fund
Photo Credit: WOKV

Child with Autism, Down Syndrome overcomes cancer with help from Child Cancer Fund

Cancer is one of the toughest diagnosis a parent can face, but when Rankin’s parents found out he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, they had already been dealing with two tough diagnosis.  Rankin is a child with Autism and Down Syndrome.

It all started in 2008 with a swollen hand, but when his father took Rankin to his doctor for some tests, he found it was much worse than he feared.  “His white count came back incredibly high, so fear and panic started with my wife and spread to me, obviously,” Pete Lee said.  “He was checked into Nemours that very day, and treatment started the next day.”

It was a diagnosis that changed their lives again.  For even though they were used to their struggles with their young son’s conditions, they didn’t know how he would react to a tough treatment regimen.  “A lot of times Rankin would struggle and fight,” Lee said, “but the people at Nemours were fantastic so we were able to get it done.”  Lee credits a Child Life Specialist “Ms. Jolly” with brightening their day, and keeping Rankin calm or distracted when he’d undergo his blood draws.  “She could bring a smile to your face when you had no intention of smiling.  Some people say, ‘you fight cancer,’ and you do, but you fight cancer with help.”  Lee said Ms. Jolly, whose position is funded entirely by the Child Cancer Fund, also made the difficult, exhausting time the adults a bit easier.  “We always had someone there to make the situation lighter, and Ms. Jolly is the best at that.  The best I’ve ever seen.”

Against the odds, Rankin beat cancer and has been in remission since 2012.  He’s now 20 years old, and his parents say they still have his miracle story in the back of their head every day, but they cherish the moments they have with their son thanks to his fantastic treatment and the people who fought alongside them at the Child Cancer Fund.

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  • Ahead of an approaching cold front, Northeast Florida saw a line of strong storms roll through. Some of those storms prompted severe thunderstorm warnings and a few tornado warnings from the National Weather Service of Jacksonville. The NWS does believe an EF-0 tornado did touch during in northern St. Johns County on Tuesday evening. At this time, WOKV has not received any reports of injuries, but there have been reports of damage and downed trees.
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  • The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is working hard to make sure people throughout the state who are unemployed are getting the assistance they need during the coronavirus pandemic. That means hiring more staff members to help people who are trying to apply for unemployment benefits. Executive Director Ken Lawson signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor over the weekend to execute the CARES Act in Florida. Lawson says his staff is working hard to implement those resources to Floridians as soon as possible. The week before most businesses closed due to government orders, the Department of Economic Opportunity received 28,000 calls. Last week in just four days, they received 130,000 calls. That higher volume of calls is overwhelming the staff, but it looks like help is on the way. Anyone who calls right now should expect to wait on hold for upwards of an hour, but hopefully that wait time starts dropping soon. The Department of Economic Opportunity is hiring 100 people statewide to answer calls, walk people through the application process, and handle processing applications. Florida residents eligible for reemployment assistance include people quarantined by a medical professional or government agency, people who have been laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period of time or people caring for an immediate family member diagnosed with coronavirus. Any Floridian whose employment has been negatively impacted by the virus can get more information here.
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  • The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is searching for a suspect they say is wanted for solicitation to commit first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Police identify the suspect as 23-year-old Bobby Taylor.  If you've seen him or know where he is, you're urged to call JSO at (904) 630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

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