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More than just play time

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Elijah at the hospital waiting to go home to see his family and wait for his play set to be built by State Farm volunteers on Saturday, June 26. (Courtesy Photo)

State Farm and Roc Solid Foundation team up to bring joy to a child battling cancer.

For the 2nd time this month, State Farm has teamed up with Roc Solid (ROC) Foundation to provide play sets to kids fighting cancer in Louisiana.

The sponsorship supports the nonprofit’s program, Roc Solid On Demand, which ships play sets to families battling pediatric cancer anywhere in the contiguous United States.

With the challenges for travel and in person build events presented by Covid-19, the ROC Solid Foundation had to create a way for these children to receive play sets, so they created ROC Solid on Demand. This put the responsibility of the family to build the play sets.

But when local agents found out State Farm sponsored the play sets, they volunteered to build so each child had their playset readily available.

And that’s what just took place for one young Benton boy.

In 2019, Elijah Gillipsie, was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). It is a brain tumor that is highly aggressive and difficult to treat. Elijah initially received 6 weeks of radiation and was a part of a trial at St. Jude’s Hospital. Unfortunately, Elijah was removed from the trial and began oral chemotherapy. He recently returned home after receiving 10 more radiation sessions.
 
Shortly after returning home, volunteers from State Farm coordinated with each other, and built Elijah’s brand-new play set.

“Giving back to communities where we live and work is a big part of who we are at State Farm,” said Felicia Hutchins from State Farm Corporate Responsibility. “We are excited to partner with Roc Solid and give Elijah a safe place to play and make memories with his family soon.”

The build took place on Saturday, June 26.

Since coming home, Elijah has unfortunately been too sick to enjoy his new play set with his twin brother Ethan.

“Ethan, Elijah’s twin brother, is looking forward to the day he can play with Elijah on the play set. Elijah is currently on hospice. It is in God’s hands now,” said Elijah and Ethan’s mother, Christine Gillispie.

Roc Solid Foundations mission is to build hope for families fighting pediatric cancer through the power of play. Because when kids are playing, cancer is the farthest thing from their minds, and with compromised immune systems, they need a safe place to play more than ever.

“When a young child is diagnosed with cancer, the first thing taken away is the opportunity to play. Normal family activities are replaced with doctor’s appointments and treatments that leave kids with weak immune systems and often the inability to interact in public. A new backyard playset not only provides a safe haven for play, but it also represents an escape from the reality of fighting cancer, and most importantly, hope for the future,” says Eric Newman, ROC Solid founder and pediatric cancer survivor himself.

State Farm agents: Wesley Eckles (Shreveport), Lisa Dilts (Haughton) and her husband Wes Dilts, Mickey Walker (Shreveport), Nick Rome (Vivian), Nora Brooks (Shreveport), Derrick Gatson (Shreveport) and Tony Smith, State Farm Sales Leader, all took part in building Elijah’s play set.

For more information on the Rock-Solid Foundation, please visit:
https://rocsolidfoundation.org/donate/?gclid=CjwKCAjwrPCGBhALEiwAUl9X0_bY7XHP
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