A primary goal of the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office is to protect individuals from harm. Many times the harm caused to the victim is not of their doing.
Recently, the members of the department have banded together to help a most innocent of victims in a very special way.
The Hope for Aracely Gonzalez Foundation is an organization that was recently formed to help the daughter of Deputy Javier Gonzalez’, Aracely, and the family as they face the medical expenses related to Aracely Gonzalez’s rare malignant brain cancer.
“We realized very early that Aarcely and her family are in a marathon and not a foot race,” Sheriff Kevin Bond said. “”We wanted to do something ongoing to help support and continue to provide care for the family.”
In June of this year, Aracely Gonzalez was diagnosed with a malignant form of brain cancer known as Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor (PNET.)
The little 8-year-old girl has undergone four brain surgeries, a tracheotomy, several platelet transfusions and chemotherapy treatments in the past three months, according to information provided in a press release.
“Cely is still in the hospital (Women’s and Children’s Hospital at the University of Missouri – Columbia) and is undergoing her fourth round of chemo,” Peggi Sargent a dispatcher at the sheriff’s office and president of the Hope for Aracely Gonzalez Foundation said. “They are hoping she will become stronger so they can move her to Kansas City for her therapy and rehab.”
“It’s our understanding that she still isn’t very verbal,” Bond said. “She is trying to do a little school work but this has all been so devastating and traumatic for the family.”
Part of the stress for the family is they are separated, as the two older daughters Claudia Gonzalez and Marcella Gonzalez are back at school in La Monte.
“Kim, (Gonzalez) their mother is staying with Cely in Columbia while Javier is with their older daughters in La Monte,” Sargent said. “Javier travels back and forth to be with them all as much as he can.”
The medical insurance the family will not cover many of the expenses the family is facing. that is one of the reasons the foundation began.
“We have had some fundraisers including a barbecue at Bing’s in June,” Stephanie Bahner, Pettis County D.A.R.E. officer for the department and fundraiser for the foundation said. “It was very successful as were some raffles and other fundraisers we have done have been but the need is still there and so great.”
The foundation has been selling t-shirts, wristbands and ‘Super Cely’ emblems to help raise funds.
“We are also hosting the “Hope for Aracely Trap Shoot on Sat., Oct. 17,” Bahner added. “The shoot will be two rounds of 25 targets at 16 yards and we are going to have a raffle and other events are planned.”
The trap shoot will be held at the Sedalia Rod and Gun Club, 35000 Rod and Gun Club Road.
Individuals or teams may compete. The cost to enter is $20 per shooter and practice rounds are available for $5 per round.
The registration and practice shoot begins at 8 a.m. with a 10 a.m. start time. Pre-registration is encouraged.
“There are so many things that we take for granted that the family will need now and once Cely comes home,” Sargent said. “We have been very fortunate with the generosity of so many organizations and individuals.
“A local business came forward and asked what they could do to help,” she added. “We told them the family’s home needed some repairs, especially because Cely has an open trach and their house will have to be airtight so no mold is present; they donated the materials and shingles for a new roof that our employees are going to put on for them.”
The desire of his employees to help those in need is something Bond wishes to commend.
“I really think this has brought the members of our agency together,” Bond said. “So much so, that we made a decision to continue the foundation’s work after this need.
“We will keep the foundation in place to help others who serve in public safety in case of emergencies that that may face,” he added. A person can never know what may happen in the course of their life; this is greater than one issue and the need is always there.”
Individuals seeking more information or who would like to donate to the Hope for Aracely Gonzalez Foundation should visit the website hopeforaracelygonzalezfoundation.org. or call 827-0052.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.