East Texans help boy in need

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

HENDERSON, TX (KLTV) - We called it a Cheap Eats it with a higher calling. The deal was a hamburger, chips, and a drink for $5, including tax, but the proceeds went to eight-year-old Gavin Rodden, currently battling a rare muscular cancer. He has a 50 percent chance of survival.

Thursday, KLTV's Morgan Chesky told Gavin's story, giving a Cheap Eats challenge to make sure there wasn't a burger left to sell. Well, East Texans responded Friday, as the boy who brought the community together looked on.

When friends offered to help in tough times, Gavin's mother, Shannon, couldn't say no.

"Asked me if it was OK to do this little benefit and I was like, 'That'd be amazing' and then it turned into this," said Shannon.

A line of cars stretched out of the parking lot and a line of people stretched nearly as far.

"It's a little overwhelming," said Shannon. "It's a little stressful but wonderful."

Crowds came from all over East Texas, hungry for a good cause.

"We saw the advertisement for this young man on Channel 7 having a problem so we thought we'd drive down and contribute to his cause," said James Lambert.

A car crash took Rickie Turner's ability to walk, but not his ability to give back.

"They came out for me and I knew it wouldn't be a problem for them to come out for this young man and I knew I would be out here to just to pay back for what everybody did," said Turner.

Volunteers assembled burgers at breakneck speed while others loaded deliveries just as quickly. Looking on, Gavin Rodden summed it up in two words.

"Very crazy," said Gavin.

It was a feeling shared by his father.

"You expect a couple hundred people and this is amazing," said Brannon Rodden. "We're blessed."

The Henderson Fire Department stopped by for their share of burgers. Gavin and twin brother Garrett spent five minutes firefighting, while cooks flipped a not so endless supply of beef. Running low on burgers, reinforcements saved the day and quite possibly Gavin's life.

"People love him and people care about him and they're looking out for his well being," said Gavin's dad.

His parents say they couldn't have asked for more. As for Gavin, he has only one request.

"If my mom gets me a burger, that will be the best part about today," said Gavin.

Organizers tell us more than 1,400 burgers were sold, raising at least $7,000 for the Rodden family and donations are continuing to pour in. If you would like to give a little bit for Gavin's battle, a fund has been set up. You can donate to the Gavin Rodden Fund at all Citizen's National Banks in Smith, Rusk, and Gregg counties.

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