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“A bond that never goes away”: CCF founders reflect on 25 years
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“A bond that never goes away”: CCF founders reflect on 25 years

“A bond that never goes away”: CCF founders reflect on 25 years
Child Cancer Fund founders Jan Saltmarsh and Laura Ferrante reunite after being apart 20 years.

“A bond that never goes away”: CCF founders reflect on 25 years

It’s been two decades since Jan Saltmarsh and Laura Ferrante last saw each other, but reuniting in Jacksonville ahead of the 2019 Care-A-Thon meant picking up right where they left off.

“It’s just a bond that would never, is never gunna go away,” Laura says.

That bond was forged some 25 years ago, when Jan’s daughter Ellen and Laura’s daughter Kelsey were both being treated for leukemia. They were introduced by a nurse named Joni Lawler and doctor named Paul Pitel, who had a goal- paying the salary of the Child Life Specialist, a position that had just been cut from the hospital budget.

“I know it struck me like a ton of bricks. I just said, well what can I do,” Laura says.

Jan immediately rallied a foundation her family was familiar with, and was able to get a check.

“We walked in to Dr. Pitel and said ‘hire her back’, and they did,” she says.

FULL COVERAGE: WOKV Care-A-Thon benefiting the Child Cancer Fund

It was the start of a mission that became larger than either of them realized it would be at the time.

“I knew what a difference it was going to make in the children’s lives. Our children, as well as the other children. We became part of the cancer family. Not a family you really want to join, but it is definitely a family. And seeing what those children needed, to help them through this- namely a Child Life Specialist- was really what kicked us off,” Jan says.

The Child Life Specialist position helps bring a sense of normalcy for the children that are going through treatment, and can even help make those treatment sessions fun and exciting. Funding that position was crucial for Jan and Laura, but they wanted to make sure the families with children in treatment were being cared for as well.

It all drove them to start the Child Cancer Fund.

“As parents of kids with cancer, we knew firsthand what insurance pays for and what it doesn’t pay for, and there’s a lot it doesn’t pay for. So, we were trying to reach out to those families who either had insufficient insurance, or just special needs, to try and meet some of those needs that we knew were there. You send a child with cancer home and you don’t have a washing machine, how do you keep that environment safe for them, when you can’t even clean their clothes adequately? So, those are the kind of things we started funding, to help those families. Because we knew if they couldn’t come home, they had to stay in the hospital. The longer they stay in the hospital, the harder it is for them to live the new normal life,” Jan says.


Two families will forever be linked due to a childhood cancer diagnosis 25 years ago. As the 2019 Careathon approaches,...

Posted by News 104.5 WOKV on Friday, July 5, 2019

The focus early on was the Child Life Specialist position, but not only because of the impact the person in that position, Miss Joli, has on the children going through treatment, but her impact on the family as well. Jan’s other daughter Amy was only around 6-years-old when Ellen was being treated, and day-to-day life was not easy, especially because of how sensitive Ellen was to illness while living in the home.

“I had to go over and be kissed by this little boy, so that I would get the chicken pox, so that I could then see my sister again. And I remember, during this time, like I couldn’t be in the same house as my sister, so I would sit on the porch outside, and we would play school. So I would draw, and I would hold my drawing up to the window, and Ellen would, you know, like touch her hand up to the window, and we would communicate that way. It was just a whole different, you know. That’s the closest person to be in the whole world, and not being able to like physically interact with her was probably the hardest thing,” Amy says.

She’s not the only young child that struggles to understand what exactly is happening.

“There was a lot of guilt on my son’s part that didn’t really surface until later, as he got older. ‘Did I do this’, ‘Did I do something wrong’... and it hits you like a ton of bricks. Because you’re so focused on the child that’s sick, and there’s only so much emotional bandwidth that parents have during parts of this ordeal, that it’s really easy to... my son was the good one. He always did what he was supposed to do, and by the time he was five or six, I realized he was being affected as well, and it’s heartbreaking,” Laura says.

Miss Joli is there to try to bring some meaning to these young children, including providing therapy. She is equipped with specialized dolls that reflect some of the ailments and side effects the children are showing, and speaks with classes about how children going through treatment are not bad or contagious.

“Very basic sorts of things, but things kids need to be told and parents who haven’t dealt with this don’t always realize- what is my child thinking about, what is going on here,” Jan says.

The CCF mission continued to grow, to focus on the emotional health and well-being of the families.

“A child was terminal, and had not seen their grandparent for some time. And they didn’t have the money for the grandmother to come. And we bought a plane ticket. And that grandmother got to say goodbye to that child. Those are the things that stick with you,” Jan says.

CCF can provide off-duty nurses and caregivers to stay with children when parents need a break, and financial assistance for bills the family is struggling to pay. They send families going through treatment to Camp Boggy Creek,  and offer tutoring services. Looking back from where they started 25 years ago, to now, is hard to explain.

“It’s, I think, one of the defining moments of my life. It’s one of the accomplishments that I feel really good about in my life, that I did something, and by acting, I changed the course of what is normal here in the Jacksonville area. I’m super proud of that, and just, how this community really has stepped up. This community has embraced us,” Laura says.

Her daughter Kelsey is now a software engineer in Boston, and her son Trevor is excited to get married later this year. Jan’s daughters are grown and doing well- Ellen works in marketing in Charlotte, and Amy owns a crossfit gym right in the Riverside area of Jacksonville.  They feel fortunate that their families grew stronger together from this experience, instead of falling apart, and they hope that treatments in the future continue to move toward embracing the mental health and other care that’s needed to support families.

Most of all, they hope that another 25 years down the road, there will be a cure for cancer outright. But if not, the Child Cancer Fund will be here to continue helping.

When the mission started 25 years ago, “Child” wasn’t just about who the organization serves, it was a mission statement. Caring. Hoping. Involving. Loving. Doing. CHILD Cancer Fund.

Even if Jan and Laura go another 20 years after this before seeing each other again-

“You go through these kinds of experiences, and it’s a bond that never goes away,” Laura says.

-they know they’ll be able to pick right back up where they left off, with those shared experiences- and the continued shared CCF mission- always uniting them.

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'You will always have our support,' one woman wrote. 'Praying for you and your family.' 'Our friendship goes back 30 years or more and you have always been a great friend to me,' another woman wrote. 'You were there for me many times. I believe in you and you have my support, always.' Lorrin Freeman said Wake County is handling the case because Mike Waters, her counterpart in Granville County, could potentially become an important witness at trial. Waters, who addressed the case in a statement on his office's Facebook page, wrote to Lorrin Freeman in November to ask her to look into the case. Watch Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman discuss the case below, courtesy of the News & Observer. WRAL reported that Joshua Freeman, who Waters represented in 2014 while in private practice, gave the future prosecutor the tape recording of Wilkins' conversation with the man who talked of killing the former deputy. It was not clear Friday how Freeman obtained the recording. 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'Part of this investigation has centered on why this sort of conversation would have occurred, what the underlying motivation would have been,' Lorrin Freeman said Tuesday, according to the newspaper. 'Additional information has come to light regarding operations and accounting practices of the Granville County narcotics interdiction team.' Those investigations remain ongoing.
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  • Here is a look at what impeachment is and why it doesn’t necessarily mean removal from office. How does impeachment work? Impeachment was established by the framers of the Constitution as a way to accuse a president of a crime and to hold a trial to determine if he is guilty of that crime. The Constitution lays out two specific actions, treason and bribery, that could lead to impeachment and removal of a president from office. The system also allows for a broader category to accuse a president of crime, although that category is more vague. A president can also be charged with and found guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” What exactly constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors is not defined in the Constitution, making impeachment on that basis more difficult. By design, it is not easy to get rid of a president. Here are the steps in the process for impeaching a president: First, an impeachment resolution must be introduced by a member of the House of Representatives. The speaker of the House must then direct the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary (or a special committee) to hold a hearing on the resolution to decide whether to put the measure to a vote by the full chamber and when to hold such a vote. A simple majority of the Judiciary Committee must approve the resolution. If the Judiciary Committee approves the resolution, it moves to a full vote on the House floor. If a simple majority of the those present and voting in the House approve an article of impeachment, then the president is impeached. The procedure then moves to the Senate where a “trial” is held to determine if the president committed a crime. There is no set procedure for the trial. How it is conducted would be set by the Senate leadership. Members of the House serve as “managers” in the Senate trial. Managers serve a similar role as prosecutors do in a criminal trial, they present evidence during the procedure. The president would have counsel to represent him at the Senate process. The chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court presides over the trial. Senators listen to the evidence presented, including closing arguments from each side and retire to deliberate. Senators then reconvene and vote on whether the president is guilty or not guilty of the crimes he is accused of. It takes a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict. If the president is found guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president is sworn-in as president. The hearing in the Senate, along with a charge in the House that the president has committed a crime is not a legal one. No penalty, other than removal from office, is brought against a president in an impeachment hearing. Impeachment trials have been held twice in the country’s history -- for President Andrew Johnson and for President Bill Clinton -- and both ended in acquittals: meaning the presidents were impeached by the House, but not convicted and removed from office by the Senate. One vote kept Johnson from being convicted of firing the secretary of war in 1868, which went against a tenure act. In 1999, the Senate was 22 votes shy of convicting Clinton of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by Paula Jones.

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