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Organizers: Grace for Chase event a rousing success

By Staff | Sep 19, 2013

The area community continues to come to the aid of one of its own.

Chase Johnson, a 7-year-old boy battling leukemia, has yet another tough fight on his hands, one that will likely keep him away from home for several months.

With that in mind, Victory Lane Cafe, a sports bar on Hancock Bridge Parkway, hosted another Grace for Chase event Saturday, where kids of all ages had fun, food and an opportunity to help Chase and his family get through a time that has been troubling financially and emotionally.

The goal was to raise about $10,000, which is what the first event raised at Dorado’s on July 28.

The money will go toward paying Chase’s medical bills and help the family with the process of moving to the Tampa Bay area for the bone marrow transplant needed to treat the T-cell leukemia.

The event featured a bounce house, raffles, Chase’s favorite superhero, Spiderman, cornhole, and the icing on the cake, a dunk tank, which Chase specifically asked for so he could dunk his father.

The raffles and the sale of Grace for Chase T-shirts made up a good chunk of the money, the latter of which sold out.

It also celebrated the courage of a boy and his family, all of whom have faced this challenge with strength and dignity.

Chris Johnson, Chase’s father, said the transplant has been scheduled for sometime in November. In the meantime, he is about to go through another round of chemotherapy at the end of this month.

This is part of at least a 90- to 100-day stay at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, a time during which Chase will be rather isolated.

“Chase can’t be around any child under 12 for the time he’s going through treatment. He has to stay away from germs,” Johnson said. “He just got back from treatment Friday after going through another round Monday.”

That didn’t stop Chase from having as much fun as he could with his friends and family.

He devoured cotton candy and got to dunk his father in the dunking tank, showing a pretty good fastball.

“It’s nice. I liked the dunk tank because I like playing with my dad,” Chase said. “It’s nice to have all my friends over before the transplant.”

Johnson said the fact Chase is 7 has been a strength, one that he and Chase’s mother must show when around him.

“That he’s a kid he doesn’t understand the mortality of the situation. He doesn’t have that stress in his head. He goes through treatment and handles it well. There’s a lot of pain involved, and he’s a trooper,” Johnson said. “He’s handled it better than we have.”

Chase’s mother, Lisa Snyder said the challenge has been with balancing the “normal” lives his friends enjoy with the challenges treatment brings.

“The younger ones don’t know what’s to come, but because he’s mature beyond his years, he does understand the severity of this and knows he’s been through a hard time,” Snyder said. “For him it’s hard because he can’t go to school, he can’t have normal play dates or go to sporting events.”

Chase knows he has a difficult journey ahead of him, but is looking to the future.

“It’s hard sometimes because it’s such a challenge. It’s hard to say what’s the toughest part, but I’m doing good,” Chase said.

Chase was diagnosed with leukemia in January 2012. Doctors had succeeded in getting the leukemia in remission with chemotherapy, but Chase recently relapsed while still on treatment and now faces a bone marrow transplant.

The family has created a Web site, www.graceforchase.com, which will provide updates on Chase’s progress and an opportunity to donate.