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Great Day at Cook Children's Hospital

"The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
     --- Mark 12:31

If Rex Fleming taught us anything, it was how to live out the verse above.  As I've told people before, I can't count how many times he told Jill or I to go through a drive-thru and get some food for someone holding up a sign on the street.  Or that we should pay for a night in a hotel for homeless people.  Or that we should go take food trays to those without anything when we would have leftovers.

All of that leads me to believe he was happy earlier today as he looked down on us and saw what was going on at Cook Children's Hospital.  Today was the day Jill and I had been pointing toward for a couple of years.  We knew whether Rex survived his battle with cancer or not that we wanted to help other pediatric cancer patients at Cook Children's in some way, and we did that today.

As I've written before, Rex always had to have some electronic gadget in his hand (usually one of our iPhones or his own iTouch), and today we gave out give iTouches and five iTunes gift cards to kids at Cook Children's Hospital.  Officially, the money for those came from the P4X Foundation, which is just getting off the ground.

In reality, the money for those came from you and your generosity and your love for our boy.  Because of your generosity toward us and our foundation, we were able to go to Fort Worth and put smiles on the faces of kids who are going through things no one -- much less a child -- should ever have to go through.  And we were able to hug the necks of parents who are facing the same fears, anxiety, stress and worry that Jill and I dealt with from Nov. 22, 2010, through Nov. 25, 2012.  Those were great smiles and great hugs.

One of the recipients today was Tatum Flaming of Abilene, and it was great to see Tatum and her mom, Mandy Flaming. On our way home from Fort Worth, Mandy texted Jill and asked her for some of Rex's favorite games so they could be sure to add them to her iTouch.

The looks on the kids' faces when they found out what they were getting was priceless, and even moreso when they learned that they could actually keep the i Touches for themselves and didn't have to share them with anyone else.  Of course, that didn't stop the big brother of one of the little girls from trying to steal her iTouch!

The smiles we saw on the faces of the kids were great to see, but we also needed to be there to see the sad look in the eyes of a few of the parents. Jill and I knew the look because we'd seen it our own eyes for two years.  It's a look of stress, worry, anxiety, anger, pain, etc., all rolled into one painfully agonizing stare.

We were able to meet the parents, talk with them for a few minutes and hug their necks.  And whisper in their ear that somehow, someway they would come out of this on the other side and they would be able to get back to living.  It might not seem like it right now, but it will happen.

We are grateful that our parents, Danny and Deona Fleming and Len and Linda Wishousky, were there, as well as family members Bruce and Sandy Dulaney and Fred and Debbie Harendt.  And we were grateful that our friend Kelly Moore -- the president of Fort Worth Christian Schools and the president of our foundation -- was there to lead the proceedings and explain to everyone gathered there just what we're doing.  

And we were blessed by the presence of our friend Bill Allcorn, who is the inspiration for this whole thing.  Bill's father, Stan Allcorn, is the pastor at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church (where we are members), and Stan is Jill's boss. Bill is a terrific young golf pro playing on the Adams Tour, and he came to us earlier this year about an idea he had called "Biridies 4 Rex" in which he would donate a portion of his earnings for every weekend birdie he made at each tournament he played in this season. He's also gotten a couple of other pros to join him in the effort, and they've raised quite a sum of money for the foundation.

We were blessed to raise quite a sum of money in April, and some people might wonder what we're going to do with it. Well, we'll have more information on that later, but the iTouch giveaway is just a start.  We'd like to be able to eventually help parents of pediatric cancer patients at Cook Children's pay their bills for a month or two if needed.  We'd like to be able to give money to Hendrick Medical Center in honor of a few people here who played such a big part in Rex's care.  We'd like to be able to give back to Rex's school, Taylor Elementary, in a few different ways. We'd like to be able to give money to the Rehab Center where he underwent physical therapy after each of his surgeries. We'd like to give money to Make-A-Wish to help a child's dream trip come true. There are so many other things we want to be able to do, but they all take money, and right now we're talking through some ideas for another fundraiser in the spring that we hope will blow the doors off the Chik-Fil-A Night total and help us begin working toward doing all of these things to help kids with cancer and their parents.

So be watching Facebook and this CaringBridge site for upcoming details.

Would ask once again that you remember to pray for Callie, Landry, Tatum, Zach, Dominic, Feryn, Franklin, and Shirley as they each walk this journey with cancer. Pray for healing and pray for a cure to this beast.

I'd also like to ask that you pray for the family of Ronnie Lorenz.  Ronnie went home at 3 a.m. Monday morning after a heart attack almost three weeks ago left him with without oxygen to his brain for several critical minutes. But his struggle is over, and he's now healed and whole.

Ronnie was an avid golfer, as was another great friend of our family, Larry Nichols.  Ironically, those two old friends died on the same day, nine years apart.  I talked earlier Monday evening to my friend Brady Nichols (Larry's son and Ronnie's son-in-law) and wondered if they had already teed off on the ultimate golf course?  Brady said he thought they had and that they had made all the 3-foot putts. 

Ronnie's memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Highland Church of Christ in Abilene.  Please remember his widow, Darla, and his daughters, Robyn and Brooke, as well as grandchildren, sons-in-law, parents, other family and friends as they grieve the loss of this wonderful man.

My family has known the Lorenz family for many years, but over the last two years -- and especially the last couple of months that Rex was alive -- whenever I would see Ronnie and he would ask about Rex, he would begin to tear up when I would answer his question. He was a loving father and grandfather, and he knew in his heart how badly our parents and Jill and I were hurting inside throughout this whole thing.  He would simply look at me and through his watery eyes remind me of the greater place that awaited Rex ... and all of us.

Today Ronnie has seen that place.  He's seen the face of Jesus. Hopefully he's seen Rex. And in spite of our tears, hopefully we're reminded that a greater place awaits us, too.

Onward ... and Looking Upward.