Community unites in support of ill student

February 1, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Students at Bloom Vernon Elementary School, and many members of that community have raised nearly $7,000 for a child whose health odyssey has led him through periods of unanswered questions and long days in the hospital.

At the time of Thanksgiving, Waylon Cordle, a 7-year-old first grader at Bloom-Vernon Elementary School, was a healthy, happy, energetic little boy. On the Friday after Thanksgiving Waylon became ill. His parents, Mike and Tara Cordle, took him to the hospital and were told he had strep throat and sent him home with medicine.

On Saturday Cordle started vomiting and was again taken to the hospital and was given IV fluids for dehydration and sent home. On Sunday, his mom started vomiting as well and just thought everyone had a stomach virus. Sunday evening, Waylon Cordle’s sister Kara went to her mom and said “Mom, Waylon doesn’t look right”, upon entering the room his mother and sister found him unresponsive. His mother performed CPR while his sister called 911 and his father at work.

Cordle was transported to the hospital and on Monday transported to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, where he has been every since. Cordle was diagnosed with Virial Encephulitics. He was subsequently placed in an induced coma.

Around Christmas the doctors started to bring Cordle out of the coma and with each attempt at lowering the medicine, he would start having seizures again and they would have to up the coma medication. On Christmas Eve his parents were told the worst. Cordle might live as a vegetable for the rest of his life or not make it at all. On Dec. 29, 2012, Cordle’s first grade teacher Debbie Loper received a heavy burden to hold a community prayer for Cordle. Loper contacted people and organized the prayer meeting.

Meanwhile, the doctors in Columbus were working once again to bring Cordle out of the coma. They were reducing his medication every three hours. The community prayer started at 6 p.m. and more than 200 community people attended the prayer meeting. Cordle’s sister Kara was able to have her parents on the “Facetime” smart phone and tablet video applications which allowed them to be a part of the prayer meeting.

Five minutes after the prayer meeting ended, Loper announced that Cordle had opened his eyes for the first time in more than four weeks. Each day since Jan. 1, has seen an improvement for Cordle. Last week Cordle started talking and throwing a ball with his parents and the physical therpist at Children’s Hospital. He will be sent next week to the rehab floor at Children’s Hospital to start a rehab program.

Parents, teachers and students at Bloom-Vernon have held several fundraisers to benefit the Cordle family and to ease the financial burden that they will face. This week Bloom-Vernon Elementary held “The Five Day Penny War” for Cordle which began the Jan. 28th and ended on Friday. Students brought in pennies for their grade level’s penny container. One penny equals one point. Students could also bring in other change and dollars as well.

The goal for the Penny War was two-fold: to raise funds to help support the Cordle family and to give the students at Bloom-Vernon Elementary School an opportunity to give to a friend in need. Students have worn camouflage, dressed in fatigues, and arrived at school armed with bags full of pennies and other change.

The first grade students, known as “Waylon’s Warriors” marched down the hall chanting as they deposited their pennies in their penny bucket. Students and teachers have formulated strategies and plotted against other grades, all in good fun. Each morning the hallways of the elementary school have been buzzing with excitement.

Each day a group of volunteers has taken the money buckets to the bank to be counted. On two different occasions, complete strangers have donated to the cause while doing their banking. On Thursday, a lady inquired about the 14 change buckets and upon finding out that students were donating money to help a fellow classmate, she approached the volunteers and donated $100 for Cordle.

Students have banded together for a common cause, and regardless of which grade won the “war,” everyone has agreed that the real victory was helping out Cordle. Those involved in the effort say the South Webster community has been extremely generous—retired teachers, local businesses, and other residents have dropped off money at the school.

The latest count shows a total of nearly $7,000 has been contributed to the family. Students have done extra chores to earn money, emptied their piggy banks, and have brought in their birthday money to contribute to the war effort.

When asked why he was helping with the Penny War, a fourth grade student, who has never even met Cordle, responded, “Waylon is a Jeep! We help each other out!”

An Account has also been set up at Fifth-Third bank for Cordle and donations can be made to FBO Waylon Cordle.

Judy Slack, Emily Hempill and Bloom-Vernon Schools contributed to this story.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com