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Heaven Sent helps one of own

When Claudette Rogers was planning to open a daycare center in Troy, her dad, Johnny Huffman, cautioned her to never get greedy, “Always give something back to others.”

“From the beginning, I planned to do just that,” Rogers said. “And, I wanted to instill that giving spirit in the children at Heaven Sent.”

Rogers’ plan was to host an annual fundraising event for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and involve the children.

“Every day, I look into the sweet, loving faces of children and I’m so thankful for them,” Rogers said. “And, I think about all the children who are fighting these horrible diseases with names that we can’t even pronounce. I wanted us to do something for them. I chose St. Jude because no child is turned away because of inability to pay.”

The first St. Jude benefit Trike-a-Thon was planned for 2009.

Sadly, Johnny Huffman passed away before the event, but his daughter took comfort in knowing that he knew it was in her plans to give back to others. It was in her dad’s memory that she organized and carried out the first St. Jude Trike-a-Thon.

“Earlier this year, I got a call from St. Jude and they said this is the first time in 10 years that their contributions are down,” Rogers said. “They asked if we were planning another Trike-a-Thon. I told them that we are committed to an annual event and that we hope to get bigger and better every year.”

Because Johnny Huffman believed so fervently in “giving back,” and because he encouraged his daughter to do so, the Heaven Sent Trike-a-Thon is held as a tribute to Rogers’ dad.

This year, the St. Jude Trike-a-Thon is very personal for Rogers, her staff and all the Heaven Sent children. One of the children, Allie McSween has recently been diagnosed with leukemia.

“Allie is such a precious little girl and we all love her,” Rogers said. “She is such a cute, little prissy-pot, too. Allie’s baby sister had just been born when she was diagnosed and she was so excited about being a big sister that didn’t want to be called Allie anymore. She would say, ‘Don’t you mean, ‘Big Sister?’ and we would have to say, ‘Oh, yes. Big Sister.’

“Because Allie is sick, this year’s Trike-a-Thon is more special and takes on greater importance for us. Not only do we want to do something for St. Jude’s, we also want to do something to help Allie’s family.

Rogers said the children are excited about doing something for others, especially for “Big Sister” Allie.

A fund has been set up at Heaven Sent for little Allie McSween who will celebrate her fourth birthday in April. Donations to Allie may be made to Allie’s mom, Amanda McSween, at the Heaven Sent, 409 North Three Notch Street, Troy, AL 36081.

The children at Heaven Sent will continue to raise more for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through April 9 and will appreciate donations of any amount.

“Giving back is easy,” Rogers said. “Just think want we could do if each of us would be willing to give up a candy bar or a Coke every week or dessert at lunch. That’s not a lot but when a lot of people do that, it adds up and every dollar can make a difference for a child who is suffering from a catastrophic disease.”

Those who would like to make a donation to Heaven Sent’s St. Jude Trike-a-Thon may do so at the day care center on North Three Notch Street in Troy or by check to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, C/O Heaven Sent, 409 North Three Notch Street, Troy, AL 36081.