Birthday Card Effort Continues for Ailing PES Student

Thursday, March 13, 2014
Dayton Gilkison (front) and his family with some of the 1,000-plus birthday cards he has received. Also pictured are his dad, Joey Gilkison, his mom, Heather, younger brother Trace and sister McKenzie. (courtesy photo)

The effort to have 1,000 birthday cards sent to an ailing Piggott Elementary School student has been a success, but organizers are still encouraging those wanting to send a card to do so.

The effort began earlier this year to send 1,000 cards to Dayton Gilkison, of Piggott, for his 10th birthday on March 25.

Dayton, whose father is from the Piggott area, moved to the city from Texas last July, but before school started was diagnosed with T-Cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

As a result, he has not been able to attend school and has never had a chance to meet his new classmates as the illness has forced him to spend the majority of his time in St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

Recently Dayton had the chance to open his 1,000th card, which arrived well over two weeks prior to his birthday.

"He was finely able to open his 1,000th card last Friday," noted family friend and effort organizer Geraldine Crawford. "It was exciting to see him smile, he doesn't smile much, you can tell he just doesn't feel good."

Doctors had hoped Dayton would respond to the early treatment for the disease, and possibly be able to begin attending classes after Christmas vacation. But, he suffered several set-backs related to the treatment and has been unable to attend school and is tutored instead.

After the short visit home last week, Dayton returned to St. Jude's where he was scheduled to begin the second phase of his treatment.

"This phase will require him to stay in the hospital six weeks with no breaks to come home," Crawford explained. "One of his parents will stay there with him and the other will be here taking care of their other two children. We ask that people continue to send the birthday cards, they're the one thing he looks forward to each day."

Crawford also reports a "Support Dayton" account has been set up at First National Bank for anyone wanting to make a donation. "All the branches are aware of the Dayton Gilkison Fund," Crawford noted. "And donations can be made at any of their locations."

Dayton's father Joey is originally from the Piggott area, although his parents are deceased. His wife, Heather, is from Texas and the couple has two younger children, eight year old McKenzie and four year old Trace.

Birthday cards may be mailed to Dayton Gilkison at 777 North Garfield, Avenue, Piggott, Ark., 72454.

"This precious family asks for nothing, but they need our prayers and support," Crawford surmised. "And, they're so appreciative of every act of kindness shown their family."

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