Port Arthur community walks to raise funds and awareness

Published 1:11 pm Saturday, August 20, 2016

Great strides were made on Saturday morning to raise funds for a very young girl stricken with a very awful malady.

Cadence Fundberk has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a very rare disease in which a person’s own immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system, causing muscle weakness, loss of reflexes and numbness or tingling in various parts of the body. It can lead to paralysis and even death.

Young Cadence, or Caddy, is currently paralyzed from the waist down. She is less than two years old.

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“It’s really heartbreaking and devastating,” said Forrester Johnson, grandfather of Cadence. “One day, she was active and dancing and running around, and then the next, she’s back to crawling around like an infant.”

Still, Cadence can learn to walk again. Johnson said,

“She’s young and active in mind; and if she does aggressive therapy, she will walk again. I pray she will walk again.”

Christopher Bates, Constable Pct. 2 of Jefferson County, agreed and was grateful “to hear that with the proper medicine and doctor care, she could walk again.”

“It’s a blessing that she’s in such high spirits and not in pain,” Bates said. “And because of that energy, from what I see on her face, I know that she’ll walk again. She’s going to get better.”

Cadence’s rehabilitation can happen, but it will require time, hard work, expensive medicines and an intense physical therapy regimen — and money to pay for all of that. The GoFundMe account for Walk For Caddy has a fundraising goal of $10,000.

That was where the Walk for Caddy benefit walk came in.

“The mother’s unable to work. She’s been staying with Caddy for weeks now at the [Texas Children’s] Hospital in Houston,” Jazmine Avery, one of the organizers of the event, said. “And the father works fewer hours because he’s spending as much time as he can with his family.”

The benefit walk was scheduled to start at 8 a.m. near the intersection of Procter St. and Woodworth Blvd. and end at Shreveport Ave. However, the start time was moved back as more and more people came into the parking lot of Rose Hill Park to participate.

“I came to support my cousin,” said Ann January, family of Cadence. “I have faith that she’s going to get better and that she’ll walk again.”

The outdoor event was attended by friends, family and fellow classmates of Cadence’s parents from the Memorial High School Class of 2006. In fact, several of the classmates were the ones to organize the benefit walk.

“We want to get the community aware of [Guillain-Barre] Syndrome. It could happen at any time,” Avery said. “We want to get people involved and raise money for the medical bills.

“She [Caddy] will be walking again.”

Another organizer of the event, Arlesia Carrier, agreed and said, “The support from the community has been amazing. I want Port Arthur to come out and show its support, to raise awareness.”

Awareness seemed to be a big part of the event, as GBS is so rare and virtually no one at the event had even heard of it beforehand.

“This walk is about two things,” Bates said. “First, to bring awareness to Guillain-Barre Syndrome. It’s very rare; you never know how you’re going to react if your child is diagnosed with it.

“Second, it’s important to raise funds for the family. This is going to help tremendously.”

Many people were in attendance, and talk of community spirit was strong.

“The response has been phenomenal,” Nathaniel Fundberk, father of Cadence, said. “I didn’t think it would actually turn out like this. I’m thankful.

“I’m thankful that it raises awareness about Guillain-Barre Syndrome because no one knows about it and that it shows that Port Arthur is more than it seems.”

Donations for Cadence are currently being accepted through GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/25ftkse4) and PayPal (via: jazminedavery@gmail.com).