May. 02, 2021
When it was time for Bob and Robert McClelland, owners, Bob McClelland Sales Co./Party On, Buffalo, Mo., to talk at the March 2 ARA of Missouri’s Virtual Product Showcase about the equipment they represent, they took a different tack that prompted an outpouring of support for a fellow ARA of Missouri member and his family who are dealing with a difficult health challenge.
“It was somewhat of a spur of the moment decision,” Robert says. “Jackson, the son of ARA of Missouri Vice President Darick Hemphill and his wife, Amanda, CERP, owners of General Rental Center, based in Springfield, Mo., was diagnosed with leukemia in January. Jackson has been at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital ever since. We had in our demo stock a brand-new Clarke squeegee floor vacuum that picks water right up off the floor. I wanted to do something to help Darick and Amanda out with the situation with their son. Before the event, I talked with my dad and then Ashley Pouche, ARA of Missouri president, letting them know I wanted to do something and that I had an idea. Both thought it was great and Ashley told me to go for it. So, at the end of my presentation, I talked about the Hemphills’ situation and then put the Clarke floor vacuum up for silent auction as a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Hospital.”
That idea resonated with those taking part. Robert said that if anyone wished to bid, they could text him their offer after the meeting. As soon as the meeting ended, he started receiving bids. “When we got to $1,000, I let it go to the highest bidder, who wishes to remain anonymous,” he says.
That an unplanned silent auction could raise $1,000 “speaks highly of the association,” says Pouche, president, Platte Rental & Supply, Parkville, Mo. “Everyone wishes Darick and his family all the very best. It was a small token of what we could do on the spur of the moment. It raised money for a good cause. Hopefully we can continue to help Darick and his family moving forward.”
When the Hemphills found out what had happened, they were “overwhelmed,” Amanda says. “You don’t realize the relationships that you have made over the years until stuff like this happens and people come from everywhere to help. You feel the love and support that you knew was there. It is amazing how the community comes together to support you. We are very grateful for that.”
Amanda admits the experience has been very hard for their son and entire family. “Jackson is 14. He was diagnosed Jan. 23. A couple of weeks beforehand, he came down with weird symptoms that weren’t making sense. The doctor missed it the first time. As things got worse, we took him to urgent care, where they did bloodwork and immediately told us that our child has leukemia. The next day we were MedFlighted to St Jude’s in Memphis, Tenn.,” she says.
Jackson just completed his third round of chemotherapy. “Overall, he is doing well. This has been a hard round. He had some pretty yucky side effects. His numbers are looking good right now, though. We are following the treatment protocols for this particular type of leukemia. Hopefully, he will be home by the end of July,” she says.
Amanda says her family is grateful for the care offered at St. Jude’s. “The best care that I have ever seen possible is at St. Jude’s. They take care of not just the child but also the entire family. The hope and courage that are displayed by the staff in the whole facility is just amazing. I always heard about St. Jude’s, but to experience it is incredible. It is a very deserving organization,” she says.
Robert McClelland is glad that something “I didn’t plan very well” turned out so nicely. “I have so much appreciation for the format of the meeting, which allowed everyone an opportunity to talk. I appreciate Ashley allowing me to present what I wanted to do and the response from everyone. When kids go down, we all feel it. I just wanted to bring more awareness of the situation and the good things that St. Jude’s does,” he says.
Click here for more information on the Hemphills as well as how to donate to St. Jude’s.
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