THOMPSONTOWN - When the go-karts hit Greenwood Raceway on Saturday, it will be in honor of 8-year-old Deven Jackson, a local child who recently lost his feet from a bacterial disease called neisseria meningococcal.
Greenwood Raceway President, Ken Chubb, and Promoter, Greg Deimler, said they chose Deven as the beneficiary for the Third Annual Race for a Cause because of his positive attitude and inspiring motivation.
"Even with everything he has been through, Deven is nothing but smiles," Deimler said. "He's a little inspiration, showing grown-ups that there is always something to smile about. We are honored to help him and his family."
Deven Jackson proudly displays a football signed by New York Giants’ running back Corey Webster, Aug. 16. He received the gift and a letter from Webster while recuperating at Lehigh Valley Hospital.
Photo submitted by MICHELLE JACKSON
Deven was taken to the doctors in July because of a sore throat. After blood droplets were discovered under Deven's eyes, his parents immediately rushed him to Hershey Medical Center where purple spots of dead tissue began to cover his arms and legs. Deven was then transferred to Lehigh Valley Hospital where, after turning completely black, his feet were amputated.
"Before all this began Deven played football and baseball and loved to be outside," Michelle Jackson, Deven's mother said. "It was the hardest thing in the world to tell him he was losing his feet. He has been so strong."
Now, recuperating after multiple surgeries, Deven is healing and looking forward to playing football with his friends in the future, Jackson said. If everything goes well, Deven should be transferred back to Hershey Medical Center by the end of the week to begin rehab, she added.
"His biggest goal is to play football again," Jackson said. "Earlier he was talking about how his football team would have scored more touchdowns if he was there. He keeps saying that next year he will be ready to play and his team will do better."
The gates will open for the Third Annual Race for a Cause at 7 a.m. on Sept. 15, welcoming the public and registered racers. Open practice begins at 11 a.m. and hot laps are scheduled for 1 p.m. The radio station WQLV 98.9 will be covering the day's events which include a live band, Chinese auction, kart auction and DJ vs. DJ race. The Vegas Fuel RV will also be at the raceway along with Hall's Ice Cream.
"The entire day's proceeds will go toward the Deven Jackson Fund to help his family pay medical expenses," Chubb said. "Everybody is invited to participate. You don't need to be a racer. Show up and buy some fries. The more people the better."
The first Race for a Cause earned more than $2,000 and the second year raised $3,300, Chubb said. This year, with 150 racers and 300 anticipated spectators, Chubb and Deimler expect to raise at least $5,000 for Deven.
The Jackson family plans to use the donation to purchase prosthetics for Deven and to buy a new home. Currently, the family lives in a small trailer that is not wheelchair accessible.
"The reality is that I'm not going to be able to work and every little bit helps," Jackson said. "My job is now to make sure that Deven continues his life as normal as possible. If he wants to run, I'm going to make sure that he can run."
Jackson and husband, David, are planning to attend the Race for a Cause event. If rehab goes well, Deven will attend with his family.
"We have a map on the wall to locate all the different places that Deven gets support mail from," Jackson said. "Even people we don't know are reaching out. I'd like to thank everyone for the support."
Chubb and Deimler are looking for volunteers to help at Race for a Cause and are accepting donations for the Chinese auction. For more information or to get involved call 275-4963.