Blood drive, 5K planned to support child with leukemia
by Bill Kimber
Feb 22, 2014 | 1558 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Madison Banks
Madison Banks
CHILDERSBURG – Community members are coming together to support the family of Madison Banks, a 6-year-old kindergartner recently diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).

The family’s church, Grace Baptist, is hosting a blood drive in honor of Madison, and a 5K run/walk and party is also planned.

Madison’s mom, Michelle Banks, said her daughter became ill several weeks ago, running a fever for a week or so.

The fever was initially blamed on some dental work, but even after taking antibiotics for a few days she didn’t feel well.

“The week it snowed the first time, she started sleeping all day and all night and not eating or drinking, and at that point she had not felt well for about three weeks,” said Banks.

“I took her to Children’s and told them what was going on. When I laid it all out, it was all red flags for them. They did the blood work, and it came back that she has leukemia. Everything blew up from there,” said Banks, who has two other daughters. Her 10- and 12-year-old girls have been staying with friends while Madison has been hospitalized at Children’s of Alabama for treatment.

“She was admitted immediately, and stayed in the hospital for about eight days before we were able to come home. After her first clinic visit, she was admitted back because she had E. Coli in her blood stream, from her own body. She’s now on her 11th day in the hospital, on four different antibiotics,” Banks said.

Madison, a kindergartner at A.H. Watwood Elementary School, got to FaceTime with her classmates on her first day in the hospital. “That helped her spirits and she was glad to see everybody,” her mother said. “She hasn’t talked to them since then because she hasn’t felt well and she’s been sleeping all the time, but her teacher, Vicki Green, has come to visit several times.”

Madison’s treatment started with the induction phase, in which she takes chemotherapy pills daily, plus stronger doses once a week. The aim is to kill all the leukemia cells by wiping her system clean. That will be followed by three different maintenance phases.

“Her hair is thinning and falling out, and she has lost 10 pounds in the last three weeks. She’ll gain that back. She’s definitely not my same little spunky girl that she was, but she’s a fighter.”

The American Cancer Society says ALL is the most common type of cancer in children, Banks said Madison’s doctor has told her that the survival rate is about 96 percent with this type of cancer.

“The doctor said if we could hand-pick any kind of leukemia, this is the best kind to have,” she said.

Banks said she’s aware of two other children from South Talladega County who are being treated for leukemia at Children’s.

Banks works with the Crippled Children’s Foundation, helping raise money to support Children’s of Alabama. She said it has been a humbling experience having a child on the receiving end of services from the hospital.

At this point, Madison is waiting for her body’s blood counts to improve before she can go home.

“She’s eating better and drinking better, and her fever has stayed down for two days. She’s getting a transfusion today, but that won’t help the numbers that have to rise. They have to rise on their own, so we’re playing a waiting game,” Banks said.

“She’s ready to go home. In three weeks she hasn’t walked at all, and yesterday she walked five or six steps. She wanted to get out of the room and be more active. That’s a good sign that her blood is doing what it’s supposed to be doing.”

Madison’s blood type is A Positive, and Banks said people with compatible blood may donate it specifically for Madison’s use with the Red Cross.

“She does need blood and platelets,” Banks said.

The blood drive at the church is in Madison’s honor, but the blood collected there by LifeSouth won’t necessarily go to Madison.

“But it will help other patients who need blood, and there’s a shortage of blood everywhere,” Banks said. “This is something that will help us and others.

“The community has been so good to say, ‘What can we do?’” Banks said.

Grace Baptist Church Secretary Stacey Hall said the blood drive will be Saturday, March 1, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the church, 1299 15th Ave. SW, Childersburg. LifeSouth will give each donor a T-shirt or hat.

Donors must show identification, weigh at least 110 pounds and be 17 years old or older, though 16-year-olds may donate with written parental consent.

“We are so appreciative of everyone from our church family and the community as they support Madison and her family during her fight against leukemia,” Hall said. “Madison is a sweet, spunky little diva.”

On Saturday, March 15, a run and party is planned. The Glow Run 5K Fun Run/Walk and AfterGlow Karaoke Party will be held at Kiwanis Park in downtown Childersburg, following that day’s Coosa Fest activities. Check-in will be 6 to 7 p.m., and registration is available online at

Individual registration is $30, and each participant will receive a T-shirt.

Child registration for the kids’ fun run is $10, and strollers and pets are welcome.

Post-run snacks and drinks will be provided for all runners at Kiwanis Park. Awards will be given after the race.

The AfterGlow Karaoke Party will be at Friends on Eighth, with $5 cover charge. Bring your own snacks and drinks.

To volunteer, sponsor or donate, email

Contact Bill Kimber at