Miss Texas 2016 Caroline Carothers will be in Texoma this weekend. She will be attending the Brave Hannah Fundraiser and Leukemia Awareness Day Coed Softball Tournament on Saturday at James G. Thompson Park in Pottsboro.
The tournament will be held from dawn to dusk, and there will be music, food, games, T-shirts, a silent auction, face painting, a bake sale and henna tattoos.
Carothers met Hannah Jones, 10, when Hannah was receiving treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia this year.
“Miss Texas had come to visit the sick children in the oncology department,” Hannah’s grandmother Rebecca Backschies said. “She just hit it off with Hannah. Hannah likes to draw just like her. They are both strawberry blondes — or Hannah was a strawberry blonde. Hannah has such a magnetic sweet personality. There is something about her. She is just sweet and kind.”
Hannah was diagnosed with the disease on April 16.
“She had been feeling bad,” Backschies said. “She had been diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, but on the night before Easter, she started having seizures. They were mild though. On Sunday, she had a pretty bad one. Her parents took her to TMC. They did blood work. They care-flighted her to Children’s Medical.”
When Hannah was transported, her parents were not allowed to go with her. Backschies daughter, Robin Jones traveled to Dallas while Jones’s other five children stayed with Backschies.
“That is when she became Brave Hannah,” Backschies said. “She had to do it on her own. They played the most recent ‘Beauty and the Beast’ movie for her. That was calming.”
From there, the treatment process became overwhelming for Backschies and the Jones family.
“For parents that have children in similar situations, all I can say is, stay calm,” Backschies said. “What I have to do is keep my daughter and her husband in my mind at all time. I know the pressure that they are under and what they are going through. I know what Hannah’s other five siblings are going through. That is the biggest thing to adjust to. We have to keep them in our minds and our hearts to not make this difficult.”
In the last seven months, Backschies said that she has not heard a complaint from Hannah.
“Hannah has such a good sense of humor,” she said. “I spent the night in the hospital with her early on. We got up and you know how you get kind of groggy in the morning. I did not know how to make the coffee in the coffee machine. There were little children in the same hospital dying. Hannah said, ‘lets not let this ruin our day.’ I was so ashamed of myself.”
Backschies said that she is proud that her granddaughter has not lost her spirit while receiving treatment.
“When she was in the hospital, she liked to watch cooking shows,” she said. “The other children were watching the Disney Channel, and she was watching Frontier Woman. She could not wait to come home and make pizza for us.”
While Hannah is now in remission, she will still be receiving chemotherapy for another 18 months.
“It is every seven to ten days. She has to have a spinal tap to make sure it is not in the spine,” Backschies said. “Her father has insurance, but the insurance does not pay for the helicopter ride. We just want to help them out with all the costs related to this.”
The cost of the flight was $30,000.
“But, you cannot put a price on life,” Backschies said. “She had been feeling so bad that she could not walk at times. She was in the hospital for a month, and I just wanted to do something to help out my daughter and her family.”
The money donated at the Saturday tournament will go toward medical expenses and other expenses incurred as the Jones family continues to deal with Hannah’s illness.
“I want to see all of my grandchildren get married and have a child,” Backschies said. “The treatment is so toxic that it could affect her reproductive abilities. But, that is what I want for her. I cannot wait for her to get past this and have a future.”