Cow of Hope – Fight Like a First Grader!


Cows can encourage the ‘milk of human kindness’ in worldwide hope, inspiration, and prayer. Childhood brain cancer is an unimaginable burden for two schoolmates to share, and these two girls and their families have been staring that demon in the face for several years.

Autumn (right), and her pal Katie, have been first-grade students of my Jersey friend, Cayci Barham Garrison, of Calhoun, TN.  Not only are these precious girls schoolmates and friends, they also share the unique bond that can only come from an incomprehensible burden. Cancer is hard enough to understand when an adult, but children? One can only shake their head, and hope- and hope- and hope-.

Autumn (on the right) had a relapse a couple of years ago, and after several rounds of chemotherapy in Tennessee, went to Houston’s MD Anderson for surgery and special proton-beam radiation this summer.  The treatments were successful enough for her to return to her SE TN home just in time to begin 2nd grade this fall.

Katie, a 3rd grader, has just discovered her cancer is out of remission, and she will be having a very invasive surgery this Tuesday, September 18th, at Vanderbilt.

And how does the cow of inspiration come in?  Calhoun is a dairy community in southeast TN, near Cleveland and about 45 minutes NW of Chattanooga.  When the girls were in first grade (Cayci was the teacher), the class undertook a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society. Black shirts, with the motto “Fight like a First Grader” were sold to raise money for research.

Later that year, the entire school extended that theme for their ‘decorated cow’ for National MooFest, a dairy festival originated by Mayfield Dairy of Athens, TN, that takes place at the end of May.  This unique painted cow to this day creates awareness and encourages the community to contribute to cancer research.    Young children have learned all too soon that cancer does not respect the bounds of childhood.

I thank Cayci for sharing much of the information that appears in this today’s post, and for the photo.   And I will thank each reader ahead of time for their prayers for the girls, and their wide circle of family, friends and medical caregivers.

Each day, we are given opportunities to serve our Lord, and to be grateful for both blessings and obstacles.  Today, I am thankful for the profound inspiration that shines from the life of these two girls and the families and community that surround them, and the absolutely incredible strength they display – every hour, every day!

Oh, the lessons we can learn from First Graders!  Please join me in ongoing prayer and hope as their journey continues.