COURAGE UNDER FIRE
MILLERSPORT- If having courage were akin to an Army rank, 10 year old Dennis Channel would certainly be a General. The Millersport community and the Army's Lancaster Recruiting Company worked together to help Channel and his family deal with a challenging time. Six years ago Channel was diagnosed with astrocytoma--brain cancer where the tumors have long tentacles. There is also a large mass on his spine, which is an offshoot of the brain cancer. He is now receiving radiation treatments at The James Cancer Center in Columbus at The Ohio State University.
"We feel blessed with all the friends that we've met (in Millersport)," said Dennis' mother, Shawna.
Dennis' community pulled together for him
in several ways. Feb. 10, Millersport Elementary students and the PTO sponsored a fundraiser called, "A Night Out for Dennis," which raised more than $13,000 and gave Millersport students a lesson in compassion, said event coordinator and second grade teacher Paula Clark. "This town's pretty awesome,"
she said, "and he's an awesome little guy. No one can meet him and not like him." The event began with a spaghetti dinner--of which nearly 400 were sold--and included classroom basket drawings, a silent auction, door prizes, and concluded with a family dance.
"We wanted our class and kids to learn how good it feels to help people," said Clark. "A lot of kids these days don't learn compassion."
Previously, Millersport second graders sponsored another fundraiser in the spring of 2005 and the First Presbyterian Church of Martins Ferry held two fundraisers. Millersport Elementary continues to sponsor smaller events for Dennis, some of which he takes part. "We are keeping this child-oriented," said Clark.
Dennis, whose father is an Army veteran, has a keen interest in the military. In fact, Dennis' father, Dennis senior, calls his son's bedroom "the bunker" because it is full of military memorabilia, much of it sent to Dennis by soldiers as far away as Japan. Feb. 15, Dennis received a surprise visit from fivesoldiers from the Army's Lancaster Recruiting Company who presented Dennis with a certificateof achievement, what Dennis senior called a "bag full" of Army-oriented gifts, and the soldiers gave Dennis a ride in an Army Humvee.
The soldiers made Dennis an honorary Army recruit, saying that he exemplifies a soldier's courage. However, unfortunately for Dennis, some of the procedures he's undergone to help save his life have made him ineligible to join the Army as a regular recruit. Dennis hopes there are plenty of ways in which he could still work with the Army on a civilian basis sometime in the future. He wants to be an Army chaplain. "Maybe I can help (the soldiers) out," said Dennis, adding that he often prays for the safety of the American soldiers currently serving around the world. Shawna said her son's prognosis is hopeful, and she and her family will know more from Dennis' doctors soon. "The town adopting us has been wonderful," she said. "It helps us through rough times."