The Bowling family has felt more love around this Valentine’s Day than in years past after receiving news no parents want to hear.
Joe and MaKayla Bowling took their 4-year-old to Marshall Pediatric after complaints about a pain in his neck. The doctor ordered bloodwork, MRIs, CT scans and X-rays. The seemingly perfectly healthy child was diagnosed with stage-four high-risk neuroblastoma.
“I felt like someone had been punched me in the stomach and someone took the air out of me and I couldn’t breathe anymore,” said MaKayla Bowling.
“I just stared at the wall in shock,” Joe Bowling added.
Their son, Rusty, had never been to the doctor outside of check-ups, Joe Bowling said.
“My wife actually told the neurologist he was wrong,” said Joe Bowling.
MaKayla Bowling said she was stunned because it was something she never dreamed would have happened to her family.
Rusty started treatment on Saturday, and he will remain in treatment for the next 18 to 24 months. His treatment includes chemotherapy and radiation. Rusty is at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We have to take it step by step,” said Joe Bowling. “Once everything is cured, he will have to continue with MRI scans the rest of his life.”
Mobile food vendor Hillbilly Hibachi has stepped in and is putting on a local fundraiser March 3. The fundraiser will donate 100% of the profits to the Bowling family to help with their situation.
“Every time we set up, we are giving a percentage to a need we see in the community,” said Travis York, of Hillbilly Hibachi.
They set up at the Boyd County Preschool starting at 11 a.m. March 3. The owners hope this will be the biggest fundraiser they have done so far.
“It’s very humbling,” said Joe Bowling. “I’m not going to say we lost all hope, but after this and everyone reaching out, it has brought us down to earth with how nice people are. We want to thank the community for prayers and thoughts.”
The Bowling family isn’t the first to receive a charitable donation from Hillbilly Hibachi. The trio of owners — York, Adam Brown and Derek Hinkle — have helped four other families who have a loved one with cancer.
“I ugly-cried. It makes you believe there are still good people out there. The news tells you so many bad things and this shows that isn’t the case, especially in this community,” said MaKayla Bowling.
A hashtag, #RallyforRusty, has circulated.
“Seeing how we could help the family in need … the Lord has blessed us with a business being successful from the get-go, so it was a calling to pass that along,” said York. “The Lord has blessed us, so we feel like we need bless other people. Part of our success is blessing the community.”
HH has donated proceeds for funerals, sporting events and “Night to Shine.”
“We hate the situation,” said MaKayla Bowling. “But our baby has brought so many people together.”
Joe Bowling said Rusty’s condition is curable, but he couldn’t share the exact statistics.
“Rusty is a very happy child,” said MaKayla Bowling. “When I went to get his stuff from preschool, they said that his smile lights up the hall of the school. He is always in a good mood and happy. He has such a funny personality outside of all of this.”
Hillbilly Hibachi is a mobile food vendor based in Louisa. The group travels around the Tri-State, and these fundraisers have become a staple to the business. The owners want to give back to the community however they can.
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