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Community taking a dive for young cancer patient

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Being told to "go jump in a lake" is usually a snarky kiss-off. But it's become a heartwarming call-to-action for a Missouri community whose effort to help the family of a 5-month-old boy with cancer has inspired thousands across the country to submerge themselves in cold bodies of water.

Organizers of the Facebook-based Plunge for Landon fundraiser said they have lost count of how many people have posted videos of themselves taking a dive for Landon Shaw, a Tarkio infant who was diagnosed in late February with a rare form of cancer. People are jumping in, from chilly farm ponds north of Kansas City to the Gulf of Mexico and the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.

"I can't believe how viral this is going," said Alyssa Shaw, Landon's mom. "My son has been such an inspiration to everybody and opened up people's eyes that you can't take life for granted."

Before they jump into the water, participants record themselves challenging three other people to do the same, with monetary pledges for each person who completes the challenge. The effort had raised more than $30,000 by Friday evening, only five days after notice of the fundraiser was first posted on the popular social networking site.

Entire schools, police departments and businesses around the region have posted videos of participants taking the plunge.

Landon was 4 months old on Feb. 23 when his parents took him to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City to find out why he was vomiting and losing weight. Doctors found a tumor on his left kidney, which they removed, and later discovered a large mass on his brain.

Landon's heart stopped during an operation to remove the brain tumor, his mother said, and he lost so much blood that doctors gave the family little hope their baby would survive.

"The surgeons came into the room and said they would be surprised if he made it through the night," Shaw said.

Landon did make it through, and his condition improved enough that on April 1, Shaw and her husband, Brandon, were able to bring their baby home.

But the child still has a long road ahead, with chemotherapy sessions, MRIs and CT scans. And the family is on Medicaid, Shaw said, which isn't nearly enough to cover medical bills that are just starting to arrive.

The plunge group's Facebook page had more than 11,700 members Friday, seven times the number of people who live in the small farming community of Tarkio, two hours north of Kansas City.

Lydia Hurst, who helps maintain the group's page, said participants include a soldier in Afghanistan, and people in Germany, South Korea, Spain and Ireland.

Ty Rowton, also known as the red tight-wearing Kansas City Chiefs super fan "X-Factor," dove into a pond near Bonner Springs, Kan., on Friday after being challenged by several people he didn't know. In turn, he challenged the Royals, Chiefs and all their fans to also chip in to help baby Landon.

Hurst took her own plunge Tuesday morning in sub-freezing temperatures. Like most people she knows who did their own plunges, she said she never would have jumped into a frigid farm pond had it not been for the thought of the little boy.

"My legs got numb faster than I thought they would," she said. "It was shocking. I went home and showered and didn't get warm until about noon that day."

Residents of the former college town of roughly 1,600 also have been holding bake sales and fundraising suppers - popular affairs in rural Bible Belt communities - to help the family pay for travel and other expenses. But the plunge drive has brought in the bulk of donations.

A YouTube video shows U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, a lifelong Tarkio resident, in a suit and tie as he dove head-first into the Potomac in Washington on Wednesday. He challenged several Republican leaders, both nationally and in Missouri, to take the plunge.

Lora Cummins, a former Tarkio resident who is an ordained minister and beach body coach in Port Aransas, Texas, accepted the challenge of some of her ex-classmates in the town and jumped into the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday.

"All of us are so fortunate to have grown up there and forged lifelong bonds," she said. "Facebook has brought us all back together."

Join the discussion

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hawkshaw1927 April 06 2014 at 3:00 PM

Why is is necessary to freeze your balls off, Can we not just donate some
44 to the cause of the kid?

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2 replies
anyteampa hawkshaw1927 April 06 2014 at 3:38 PM

Not to mention that the family would probably be better off if they used the money to move to CO or another legal med marijuana state where the baby could be treated with humane and effective treatments instead of chemo.

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4 replies
jet7401 hawkshaw1927 April 07 2014 at 4:02 AM

maybe they don’t use their balls enough to need them...

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alspoolhall April 06 2014 at 7:36 PM

I think if you're a friend, co-worker or family member of one of those cold-water divers (or just want to help) you can make a donation while the actual plunge-in people create a buzz about the need for funds to help this very sick child. Buzz away . . . where's my checkbook.

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warrenag April 06 2014 at 7:57 PM

I like to know were all this money goes I like to see some what of a accounting from time to time

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hawkshaw1927 April 06 2014 at 2:59 PM

Why is it necessary for me to ice meself when I kood just donate some $$ to the cause.We were not that dumb when I grew up in KC>

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1 reply
JUANITA hawkshaw1927 April 06 2014 at 5:30 PM

So just donate and shut your mouth. No one says you have to jump in ice cold water, it's an option.

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1 reply
tren555 JUANITA April 07 2014 at 12:08 AM

Stupid if you jump. More stupid to give money ! Chemo is a failure !

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dwtomczyk April 07 2014 at 6:51 AM

they jump in the susquehana on new years eve

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pbjclv April 07 2014 at 12:05 AM

They have been doing cancer research for 50 to 60 years. All of this time, they have been asking for donations to find a cure. Is it millions, billions, or trillions that they have spent to find a cure? Or, maybe they are just looking for a drug that controls it. Follow the money and you will find out that the truth will keep your dollars in your pocket. If you believe that raising money for one kid will do any good, then make yourself happy. Know this though. There are thousands of kids out there that have the same problems or illness. What about them?

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tren555 April 07 2014 at 12:05 AM

Cancer is the most profitable human activity !
How told you that cancer need money, believe that you are stupid. Very stupid !
Yes, if you want to send money, somebody is gonna get it !
We have more cancer than 50 Y ago ! So ,i'm positive , medicine has not a solution for cancer.
In fact cancer is not a medical thing.
Stop donate money. Tell them to work and do something for money !
Medics are parasites !

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mark marcum April 06 2014 at 5:32 PM

i think i would prefer to just write a check!

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1 reply
tren555 mark marcum April 07 2014 at 12:07 AM

why ! Cancer is most profitable human activity and they do nothing. Chemo ? Radiation ? They are un century old technology !
Just demand to do something for money. Right now all oncologists are parasites

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Robert Leonetti April 07 2014 at 8:35 AM


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tren555 April 07 2014 at 12:11 AM

chemo killed already over 1 BILLION people !
This is a scam !
This kid can be ok wuith a simple " high pH therapy ", with Cesium 133.

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1 reply
jet7401 tren555 April 07 2014 at 4:00 AM

got some snake oil to go along with that?

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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