A team of community volunteer soldiers rallied around Dawson Countys Soldier Boy on Jan. 12 with a little help from Elvis.
A Night with Elvis fundraiser was held for the benefit of Kenneth Stewart III, a local 12-year-old who has been battling brain tumors for the past few years. Stewart and his mother, Anna, were unable to make the event, but his brother Alex was there.
The event came the day after Stewart was honored as Lieutenant Colonel Aide de Camp, an official military title. The honor came from Gov. Nathan Deal, as requested by Dawson Countys Pam Hamalainen.
First Lt. Josh Carr and Sgt. Kevin Shultz presented Stewart with a military bag that is given usually to soldiers upon deployment to Afghanistan. They also presented Stewart with the Certificate of Appointment, which reads:
Whereas, reposing especial trust in your patriotism, valor and fidelity, I do, by the presents, constitute and appoint you, Lieutenant Colonel, Aide De Camp Governors Staff.
Dawsons Lucy Harris presented her sons dog tags to Stewart, along with another set for his brother, Alex. Harris is the mother of Army 1st Lt. Noah Harris, of Ellijay, who died June 18, 2005 in Baqubah, Iraq, following an attack by enemy forces.
Also in attendance at the Jan. 11 presentation was Dawson County Middle School Principal Dr. Mark Merges and DCMS Assistant Principal Nicole Lecave.
Stewarts mother sent event organizer Shelley Swofford a note of encouragement prior the day of the fundraiser, which was read by entertainer Kevin Woody.
It read, in part: Cancer is a very scary word, but behind that is still a soldier fighting this battle with such a strength, that only comes from up above. Kenneth is an inspiration to all of us. ... My soldier has fought and has won here on Earth, and will in Heaven, when our good Lord calls him up.
Swofford said that, when all is wrapped up, she expects the event to have raised $10,000.
It was bigger than what I thought, she said, laughing. A lot bigger than I thought. Swofford donations are still coming in that are being sent to her, or are being deposited into Stewarts account at United Community Bank.
Among the donations were $500 checks from SleeveCo and New Life Baptist Church.
I was privileged to go and spend two hours with Kenny and Anna yesterday afternoon (Jan. 13), Swofford continued. When I told Anna the ballpark total, she just started crying and hugging me. Swofford said that the family is incredibly grateful to the community for all of its support.
Staff Writer Angela Williamson contributed to this report.