When Matt Essex's mother died of lymphoma in 2007, he decided he wanted to help the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society however he could.|
The Davenport man said his mother, Wanda Trivette, was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2005. When she went into remission, he said, she was "very, very involved" with the organization, as was his sister, Jennifer Essex, who is stationed in Georgia with the Air Force.
Then, Ms. Trivette's cancer returned, and she passed away in 2007.
"I decided I kind of wanted to help" the cause, too, Mr. Essex said.
He had been working on a book called "Becoming BGD: A Superhero Tail," a "silly, tongue-in-cheek story" for those 18 and older that he wrote using his former co-workers as characters.
It's "the kind of comedy you'd see in 'The Hangover,'" he said, "just real silly, guy-type comedy."
After he had it published through Davenport's Paradisiac Publishing, he decided to get involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and donate his time and 10 percent of the proceeds from his book sales to the cause.
"(My mom) was the one that kind of convinced me that I could do something with my creativity," he said.
Over the years, Mr. Essex and his mother "bumped heads a lot," he said, but she always "made me feel like if I wanted to do something, I could do it."
He said he wrote several stories when he was younger, including stories about his mother being a queen, and "she always got a kick out of it."
It gave him confidence, he said. "(She) made me feel smart. (That's) one of my better memories of my mom."
"Becoming BGD: A Superhero Tail" was published and released on April 1. In March, Mr. Essex contacted the LLS and said he would like to donate a portion of its proceeds to the organization. That got the ball rolling, he said, and he was asked to join the committee for the LLS' annual Light the Night Walk, so he joined with his wife, Ashley.
"We've been working our tail off to try to make this year's Light the Night walk as successful as we can," he said.
This year's walk will begin at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at Modern Woodmen Park, 209 S. Gaines St., Davenport. Festivities including music, food and more will begin at 5 p.m.
Mr. Essex said the group is still looking for volunteers, and those who are interested may contact Laura Smidt at (319) 795-3225, (800) 347-1074, or Laura.Smidt@lls.org.
Those who are interested in donating and walking should go to lightthenight.org/ia.
Cancer has "affected pretty much everybody's life," Mr. Essex said, adding that everybody knows somebody who has lost someone to cancer, or someone who has been diagnosed with it. The Light the Night walk is a place where everyone can "kind of celebrate life together," he said.
"It's just a way for people to get together and kind of share with each other and show support, and hopefully raise a little bit of money for research."
Want to help the cause?
-- For more information about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, visit lls.org.
-- For more information about the Light the Night walk, visit lightthenight.org/ia.
-- "Becoming BGD: A Superhero Tail," is available in area bookstores and online at ibelieveinbgd.com and Amazon.com.
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