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We are excited to announce Juniper Peeler as our superhero for the 2021 River Valley Superhero 5K! Juniper, 3 year old daughter of Crystal and Stony Peeler, was diagnosed with a Stage 4 High Risk Neuroblastoma in February of 2020. She has since undergone chemotherapy and a variety of treatments, procedures, and hospital stays.
Juniper and her family live in Hattieville, AR and have many family and local ties to Russellville and the River Valley. Juniper has two siblings: Stony (5) and Cadee (1).
Many in our community have watched Juniper’s battle with cancer by following her facebook page, Juniper’s Journey. It is clear that though her journey will continue to be difficult, she is a spit fire with a big personality and a beautiful smile!
Though the race will likely be virtual this year (and we will keep everyone updated on that front), we can’t wait to see the love and support the River Valley community is famous for.
The 2020 River Valley Superhero is Lander Duvall, 6 year old son of Kaitlin Vantine and Logan Duvall. Kaitlin and Logan, originally both from Atkins, now reside in Pottsville and North Little Rock. Lander has 4 siblings: Kentlee Vantine (5 yo), Kamry Duvall (4 yo), Kennyn Vantine (4 mo), and Rowan Duvall (3 mo).
Over the summer of 2019, Lander was diagnosed with Stage 4 Nephroblastoma (Wilms tumor) that spread to his lymph nodes and lung. Lander had surgery to remove his kidney and surrounding lymph nodes. He has since been undergoing chemotherapy with positive results.
Lander has a long road ahead of him, but he is a fighter and we can’t wait to see our awesome community rally around him.
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This year we are super excited to be adding a Stoby’s Pancake Breakfast to our list of events. We will be donating 75% of proceeds to the family of Greyson Gilliam and retaining the other 25% of proceeds to help families throughout the year.
Greyson Reid Gilliam, of Russellville, is the 2-year-old son of Andrea Gilliam. He has an older sister, Katlyne (19), who attends school at Hendrix College. Greyson’s grandmother, Pamela Gilliam, is one of his biggest fans. If you see Greyson around town, he is likely sporting a dinosaur and/or monster truck!
Greyson was a surprise baby and was considered a high-risk pregnancy early on due to mom’s age. Extra tests were ran as a precaution, but the results were all but expected. The family learned that Greyson had multiple abnormalities. This sparked a referral to UAMS and weekly visits for the duration of the pregnancy. As a result, mom lost her job due to excessive absences. As the weekly visits progressed, mom was told that Greyson may not make it long after delivery and would be sent directly to ACH after the scheduled C-section.
Greyson made an appearance on July 14, 2016 but was sent to ACH immediately for respiratory distress and further testing. When mom was released from UAMS, she joined Greyson at ACH where he stayed in the NICU for months. After what seemed like endless testing, Greyson was diagnosed with VACTERL Association, which affects 1 in 40,000 kids. With this diagnosis, Greyson had a malrotation of the intestine, most of his organs positioned on the opposite side that they should be, a tethered cord, a hemivertebra spine, congenital scoliosis at a 45-50 degree curve, missing his left kidney and right kidney is a hydro nephrosis grade 1, his ribs are fused together with one side missing a rib and the other side with an extra rib, and he has a hole in the heart that will need to be surgically closed. In addition to this list, Greyson has diverticulum of the bladder, restrictive lung disease that puts him at risk for respiratory infections, is missing his right radial bone and thumb, and he can’t gain weight since he burns so many calories in effort to just breathe. Greyson makes frequent trips to Little Rock for medical care and currently sees a total of 14 doctors including pulmonary, cardiology, and orthopedic doctors that are formulating a treatment plan. Greyson is also a regular at Pediatrics Plus in Russellville and absolutely loves the therapists that he works with. The physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy he receives there has contributed greatly to the improvements he has made thus far.
While Greyson may have been a surprise baby, he also saved his mom’s life in the process. During the multiple genetic tests that were ran on Greyson and Andrea, Andrea discovered that she carried the BRCA2 gene that can cause specifically breast and ovarian cancer. Andrea had a full hysterectomy and a double mastectomy; basal cell carcinoma was found. She would have never known without all of the genetic testing that Greyson sparked – Greyson saved his mom’s life.