St. Mark Knights raise over $38K to help cover medical expenses for member’s son

By Paul Thies

Contributing Writer

Photos by Don Paddack

Editor’s note: This article is adapted from a press release submitted to the North Texas Catholic.

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Christian Luke participates in a shotgun fundraiser held to raise money for medical expenses for his brother, Weston.

At 15 years of age, Weston Luke been hospitalized over 35 times. He’s endured roughly 50 surgeries (29 of them within the last two years), due to the chronic gastrointestinal and respiratory maladies he’s carried since birth. He and his mother have to constantly fly back and forth between their home in Texas and the hospital in Ohio where he receives specialized medical treatment.

 “Since Weston’s disease is rare, there are only four hospitals in the country that treat his disorder. We fly back and forth to Cincinnati Children’s for treatment,” said Weston’s mother, Annette. “I am the mother of three beautiful boys, but I’m parted from two of them many months of the year. Those weeks and months away from home are difficult, but when we return it makes our reunion as a complete family all the more special.”

“A common thing everyone says is that they pray for us. That is comforting and reassuring as we face these hard times,” said Weston’s father, Ben.

What keeps the family going is their faith in God and the support they receive from family, friends, and Ben’s fellow Knights of Columbus from St. Mark Council 12553 in Denton.

Knowing of the challenges faced by the Luke family, Ben’s fellow Knights organized a fund raiser with a goal $10,000 to help defray the ever-mounting cost of medical bills and travel expenses the family faces with Weston’s treatments. On July 13, the council arranged a benefit clay shoot and auction at Fossil Pointe Sporting Grounds in Decatur, drawing 112 shooters. Each of the shooting stations was sponsored by charitable donors, as well as the main room where lunch was served.

Besides the shooters, dozens of other Knights helped to organize and manage the event, and help also came from Boy Scout Troop 65, Weston’s troop. Eighteen Boy Scouts and their leaders served lunch and cleaned up as a way to show their support for their fellow Scout, who despite his illness has attained the rank of First Class.

An auction was held to raise additional funds. Though Weston couldn’t attend as he was in Ohio for his latest round of treatment, his father Ben, and brothers Christian and Brendan, were present to thank the donors and volunteers.

“It is a true blessing that the Knights continue to support us financially and in prayer,” said Ben. “Along with ACTS, the Boy Scouts, our co-workers and friends, they have done many nice things over the years to support us in difficult times. I did not have to ask them; they just did it.”

At the end of the day, between all the shooters’ fees, sponsorships, donations and auction earnings, it became immediately clear that the Council had hit its target of $10,000, and then some. In fact, they had more than tripled their goal.

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Ben Luke (left) with Council 12553 Grand Knight Bret Curran.

Days after the event, donations continued to pour in, and when the final count was held, the Council had raised $38,200 for the Luke family.

“We are obviously blessed to be part of a community that cares so much and is able to share with others like this,” said Bret Curran, grand knight of Council 12553. “For me, the whole event can be summed up by what I call ‘the most important $5 donation.’ Weston’s troop provided the lunch, including the scouts doing most of the prep, clean-up, and so forth. The scouts did such a great job that some kind soul gave one of the boys a $5 tip. Afterwards, the boy proceeded to find me and made sure that I put his tip into the collective pot. He wanted to make sure that Weston received the $5.”

Though the family’s challenges remain, they have learned to take each day as it comes, and with the support and prayers of their community they know they can handle the road ahead.

Reflecting on their situation, Annette shared, "God gave us a son whose needs we can handle. It’s rather a blessing and a privilege to be honored with such a gift. While Weston has spent most of his life in and out of hospitals, he has taught us so much as parents: wisdom to know understanding, sacrifice, and true love.”

“Some people have told me that we have been an inspiration to them,” added Ben. “Maybe it’s the perseverance to keep going. I draw upon my past experiences of my parents’ and grandparents’ health issues and life challenges as my inner strength. My dad, a past grand knight, always told me, ‘There will be better days.’ You get there by praying for inner strength to keep going.”

Perseverance, faith, and optimism. The spirit of a father’s words are echoed in those of his young son.

“I get through each day looking for a brighter tomorrow,” said Weston. “I’m not going to let this limit my life.”

Paul Thies, a communications director and writer, is a member of St. Mark Council 12553.

St.-Mark-KCs-BUTTON.jpgAt 15 years of age, Weston Luke been hospitalized over 35 times. He’s endured roughly 50 surgeries (29 of them within the last two years), due to the chronic gastrointestinal and respiratory maladies he’s carried since birth. He and his mother have to constantly fly back and forth between their home in Texas and the hospital in Ohio where he receives specialized medical treatment.

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