Fundraiser event to be held Sunday for 7-year-old fighting cancer
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Heart of Texas Mopar Club will be holding a fundraiser event at Camp Caylor on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. to raise funds for seven-year-old CJ Cluck, who was recently diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
CJ, 7, underwent a surgery on Monday to amputate part of his right leg and went home Tuesday evening.
Prior to his surgery, CJ and his mother, Elizabeth McKusick, received word that his cancer had metastasized to his lung and groin area, and so, he underwent chemotherapy treatments to shrink the cancer as much as possible.
“The surgery was successful, and they were able to remove all of the damaged tissue, so that’s a blessing in disguise,” McKusick said.
CJ is looking at another six to eight months of chemo once he recovers from his surgery, and he will undergo radiation towards the end. He will also need to go to physical therapy at an inpatient rehabilitation center to learn how to live and be a kid with a new prosthetic leg.
“We’re hoping that by the end of this year, he can have a clean bill of health and we can say that he is in remission,” McKusick said.
McKusick said that CJ has been a fighter throughout the whole ordeal.
“He is so strong,” McKusick said. “He’s stronger than I would be. He’s just taken hit after hit after hit and he just continues to smile and love life and enjoy what we’ve been blessed with. Despite this really bad situation, we’ve been beyond blessed, and we’re just going to keep running towards the future.”
The fundraiser event will be at Camp Caylor, which is located at 146 County Road 4814, Copperas Cove, on Sunday. It will feature barbeque plates from Band of Brothers BBQ for $10 that will include brisket or sausage, macaroni and cheese, beans and all the fixings.
There will also be live music all afternoon and a Show and Shine Car Show, where any type of vehicle is allowed for a $5 cover fee. CJ will pick the best-looking vehicle which will win a prize.
There will be several items up for raffle, as well as a 50/50 raffle and a Toy Wagon Raffle for a wagon filled with $400 worth of toys personally selected by CJ. Tickets are $5 a piece.
There is also going to be a live auction and a silent auction. Some items up for auction include a four-person, three day- two night dove hunt package, as well as packages for other getaways like a hog hunt, a stay at a bed and breakfast, a cabin rental, coolers and more.
The Heart of Texas Mopar Club will also be in the Rabbit Fest Parade on Saturday morning, and co-founder Tamra Barrow is hopeful that CJ will be able to ride in the parade.
“That story just inspired us, and that is what Heart of Texas Mopar is all about is wanting to make a difference in the community,” Barrow said.
Barrow said the goal is to raise $10,000 to $15,000 for CJ and his family.
“He is an inspiration. He is majorly brave,” Barrow said. “He always has a smile on his face. He loves Mopars. He loves monster trucks. He just gives you inspiration because of the way he’s handling all of this. His family and the support system that they do have is amazing, but us at Heart of Texas Mopar saw his story and reached out to the family and have planning this benefit for over three months.”
Barrow and her husband, Robert, founded the Heart of Texas Mopar Club in January 2021 and have seen the club grow to close to 65 members since then.
“We want to make a change,” Barrow said. “We want to put love back in people’s hearts and make a difference, and that’s what this benefit is all about.”
Barrow said she came across CJ’s story online after seeing the link for the GoFundMe that was set up by his aunt. She said she felt called to help any way she can.
“It’s amazing the way that this child can handle what’s been given to him, and the smile on his face and the only thing that he wished for was to be able to still be at this benefit because with amputation surgery, we didn’t think that he was going to be able to,” Barrow said. “It’s just very heartfelt, and the family has become our family.”
McKusick was at a loss for words to describe how much the fundraiser event and all of the Heart of Texas Mopar Club’s efforts meant to her and CJ.
“I mean, unbelievable is one of the words, and truly just a random act of kindness turned into this amazing, beautiful support system for CJ and myself that we never expected we would ever have,” McKusick said. “Our journey has been rocky and so emotional that the support our community has given us has just brought so much brightness in our future and has made us very hopeful that he’s going to get the best care that he can get, and our community is supporting us where we don’t have any fear that he is not going to have a successful life. I’m so grateful for everything that has been done and everything that the Heart of Texas Mopar group has provided to CJ and ourselves.”
There is a Facebook group called CJ’s Angels, where McKusick updates friends and family and supporters on CJ’s status. The group can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/231044668501979.
There is also a GoFundMe called CJ’s Medical Fund that has raised $22,214 of its $20,000 goal, as of press time. The link for the GoFundMe can be found at https://gofund.me/4353b34c.