One of the most devastating diagnosis someone can receive is that of having cancer, but it is especially gut-wrenching when a child receives it. Spunky 10-year-old Blake Barr is one of those children.

Like a lot of boys, Blake’s favorite sport is football, especially Ohio football teams. Although Ohio State and the Cincinnati Bengals are his favorite teams, he enjoys watching local high school football teams battle it out too. His favorite Bengals player is Archie Griffin and favorite OSU player is Nick Bosa (at least for now!). Blake also loves his dogs and enjoys reading.

Blake is the big brother to his sister, Madeline. He is also the son of Enon Primary preschool teacher, Amberly Barr, and Ron Barr. Ron’s wife, Jennifer, is Blake’s stepmother.

When Blake became ill last summer, doctors found he was suffering from a brain tumor. After undergoing surgery to remove the tumor, doctors discovered Blake was stricken with a grade III Anaplastic Astrocytoma, a cancerous brain tumor that develops in certain brain cells called astrocytes. Astrocytes help form the tissue that surrounds and protects nerve cells found within the brain and spinal cord. The specific cause of that type of tumor is unknown.

What is known is that grade III Anaplastic Astrocytoma is very rare and difficult to treat.

After healing nicely from his surgery, Blake was able to enter the fifth grade at Graham Elementary School for the first part of this school year. However, doctors told the Blake’s family that his rare form of cancer needs a specialized form of radiation treatment called “proton therapy” that was unavailable locally.

The family found they would have to travel to Philadelphia to get Blake the treatment that could save his life.

On Sept. 25 Blake’s family left for Philadelphia to begin the six to seven week stay it will take for Blake to have the proton therapy. He is currently receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Each treatment Blake receives takes a few hours and he will have 33 treatments over the next several weeks.

Luckily, Blake does not have to stay in the hospital his entire time in Philadelphia. However, he does have frequent appointments to receive therapy. Unfortunately, all of the facilities where families can stay near the hospital for free were unavailable, forcing the family to relocate to a bed-and-breakfast for the duration of their stay, which is expensive and adds further stress to an already stressful ordeal

In order to support Blake and his family, the Greenon, Graham, and surrounding school communities are working together to help raise funds to cover the expenses for the family’s relocation and incidental costs during their stay in Philadelphia, as well as for any outstanding costs related to Blake’s illness.

Graham and Greenon are having a friendly fundraising challenge during a joint “Spirit Week” starting Oct. 3 and culminating in the “Greenon vs. Graham” football game at 7:00 p.m. on Oct. 7. The schools will present their donations to Blake’s family during the match-up. “Team Blake” t-shirts designed by Enon’s Xtreme Graphics and Apparel will also be available for purchase during the game and half of the proceeds will go to help Blake’s family.

Greenon will also hold an Ice Cream Social and Bake Sale Fundraiser from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 5 at Greenon Jr/Sr High School (rain location: Indian Valley gym).

The power of working together became evident on Sept. 23 when the crowd at the Kenton Ridge vs. Graham raised $1600 to donate to Blake and his family.

Team Blake coordinator, Megan Anthony, says, “The Greenon community has really rallied around the Barr family and is proud to be a part of Team Blake.”

For more information about Blake’s journey, how to donate to the family, or about joining “Team Blake,” visit Team Blake’s facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/blakesteam/.

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