“Are you ready, Jade?”
She is. Jade Grenamyer, 3, stylishly dressed in a leopard print shirt and cute little brown boots, walks excitedly toward the bulletin board and pulls off one of the playing cards taped face down to it.
The stakes are high. If it is the queen of hearts, the game is over and half the money in the jackpot will be given to her family. If she picks any other card, the game continues for another week and the jackpot will likely grow larger.
Jade reveals the four of clubs.
“Good job!” friends and family exclaim.
Jade’s walk to the board alone is worth celebrating – she just recently started walking again.
Some of her sassiness is also starting to come back, and she is starting to speak in full sentences again, her dad Scotty Grenamyer said, who is a bus driver for the Douglas School District.
In July, Jade was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer that forms in the bone marrow and can progress quickly and become fatal within months if not properly treated.
She is still happy. After some initial shyness, she lights up with smiles as she plays catch with her friends at Bartling Park Sept. 15 during the fund-raiser.
As she reveals the four of clubs, she holds it up proudly; she enjoys posing with it.
The Queen of Hearts fundraiser has been held weekly at the park for the past month or so as part of a larger effort organized by Kathleen Larsen, transportation secretary at the school district and Scotty’s colleague.
“I knew they needed help, so I just stepped up and did it,” she said.
Larsen also reached out to several other organizations and groups, including Converse County Bank and the transportation team at the school district. She established a fund with the StellaStrong Fund of the Olivia Caldwell Foundation to help raise money for the family; so far more than $6,000 has been brought in.
To participate in the Queen of Hearts, players can buy raffle tickets throughout the day of the weekly drawings at the transportation office at 1500 Cheyenne Street or they can purchase them at the actual drawing event; the dates and times of which are posted on the “JadeStrong” Facebook page.
Once the Queen of Hearts is pulled from the board, the game ends and half the jackpot goes to the raffle ticket holder and the other half goes to the Grenamyer family to help cover their food, housing and medical bills.
The game could conceivably continue for 52 weeks until the queen of hearts is drawn.
As of Sept. 18 the jackpot was valued at $438.
The Grenamyers could certainly benefit from the support. On the weekends, Scotty and his wife Crystal, a stay-at-home mom, have been driving to Colorado to take Jade to Children’s Hospital in Aurora for various appointments, chemotherapy treatments, bone marrow biopsies and spinal taps for diagnostic tests.
At home in Douglas, her parents administer two different types of chemotherapy pills daily as well as injections four times per week.
“It tears at your heart,” Scotty said, referring not just to the cancer but in how Jade sometimes reacts to the poking and prodding.
The family does not know yet which stage the cancer is in; they will find out in October following the results of additional tests. Depending on the results, Jade may need a bone marrow transplant.
It is a heart-wrenching and challenging situation for the Grenamyers, who moved to Douglas last year from Fallon, Nevada.
“We wanted a change,” Scotty said, “a fresh start.”