Local student Carrie Elmore has lost her six-year battle with cancer, but the fight continues for her family — which must endure not only the pain from her loss but a mountain of medical bills left behind.
The community has a chance to help with both during an event scheduled next weekend at Copeland Baptist Church, 169 Stony Knoll Road, Dobson, where Carrie was a member.
A group of family friends and area churches has joined forces for the “Ride for Carrie,” to be held Sunday.
It will include free lunch for the public at the church, beginning at 12:30, and a 1:30 p.m. motorcycle ride in memory of the 11-year-old from the Mountain Park community. The luncheon will serve as a fundraiser due to its donations-only format.
“This is a community event — we just want to support this family,” said Becky Johnson of Dobson, one of the organizers, who is a social worker with Surry County Schools and a friend of the Elmores. Carrie was the daughter of Kinsey and Kristy Elmore.
The motorcycle ride is a focal point of next weekend’s gathering, but Johnson said it will be more of a time for the community at large to come together for a common cause.
“It is a benefit memorial ride, but if people don’t want to ride, come eat,” she said.
Though participants are encouraged to donate money, simply giving a hug to Carrie’s family members in attendance will be valuable as well, Johnson said.
And those who aren’t into motorcycles can still take part in the ride, since church and other groups are invited to go along in cars.
Carrie’s brother Billy, 10, a student at Mountain Park Elementary, is expected to be on one of the bikes in honor of his sister.
“Billy has never known life without cancer,” said Johnson, whose husband Ken is coordinating the motorcycle ride. The roughly 12-mile trek will last about two hours on various backroads, meandering through the Devotion community of Surry County and into areas of Wilkes County, with two stops planned.
Ten Boston butts will be cooked for the meal, which also will include chicken donated by Mount Airy Meat Center and other foods, such as desserts prepared by representatives of about 20 area churches that are helping with the fundraiser.
Organizers had penciled in Oct. 14 as the date for the “Ride for Carrie” well before she succumbed Wednesday night to Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare disease characterized by cancer cells developing in bones or soft tissue. It had been anticipated that the Central Middle School student might be well enough to attend.
As her condition worsened, however, the thrust sadly shifted from a time of recognition for Carrie’s achievement as a six-year cancer survivor to a memorial ride that will honor her struggle.
“I think that is inspirational,” Johnson said Friday, when students at Carrie’s school released 700 yellow balloons in memory of their classmate. The sixth-grader was able to attend classes for only about six hours this year.
“This kid’s been in the hospital for weeks at a time,” Johnson said.
Carrie was diagnosed with the disease at age 5, and spent the next six years undergoing treatments, including radiation.
While her father was working, Carrie’s mother had to stay home and care for their daughter during the years of the illness.
Meanwhile, medical and other expenses accumulated, not the least of which were the travel costs.
The family’s home in Mountain Park is at least an hour from the Winston-Salem hospital where Carrie received treatments. “Sometimes there were daily trips,” Johnson said.
Calling the monetary demands on the family “unimaginable,” she added, “this is a financial crisis in which we all can help.”
The Elmores are thankful for having received much support from churches and others in the community to this point, Johnson said.
For next weekend’s event, planners are hoping for “the biggest group of people in that area (Copeland) that we’ve ever had,” she added. “We’re hoping to have 300 to 400 people.”
A glaring absence will be the little girl who waged such a brave fight.
“We really hoped she could be there,” Johnson said of Carrie, citing the grief the student’s death has brought to all those who knew her.
“But the family realizes she’s not in pain.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.