CLINTON — Due to several inches of ice covering the Lake of the Ozarks, Wednesday’s leukemia benefit “Row for the Dough,” for 4-year-old Warsaw resident Elizabeth Barclay, was postponed.
This will be Warsaw resident Johnnie Grizzly Adams’s third benefit row for area children. In 1990 and 1991 he raised more than $200,000. He said his goal for this row is the “price of a bone marrow transplant.”
Adams had first planned to launch from the Grand River Bridge on state Route 13 just south of Clinton on Wednesday, but found the lake covered with 6-inches of ice a week ago. Plan No. 2 was to launch from Sparrowfoot Landing just south of the original site, unfortunately it too was covered with ice yesterday.
“I’m iced in and when the ice clears some, we’ll venture on,” he said. “It’s not safe for me to walk on, if I hit a narrow spot, and there’s no way for me to break it. As soon as the ice melts enough that I can get down the lake, I’m at it.”
Adams uses a 1830’s style canoe and only pre-1830’s survival equipment on his ventures, that this time will take approximately four days. A life-jacket is his only modern piece of equipment. The trip is a dangerous solo excursion, if he doesn’t show up at designated check points within 24 to 36 hours his sponsors, the Kaysinger Bluff Pioneer Heritage Association (KBPHA) members, will know something has gone awry. When the ice clears, he will row from the Clinton area to Truman Dam.
“As the official sponsor we’ve provided a lot food that will carry him through,” said KBPHA board member Dusty Mills. “And his various stop points, when he stops to camp for the evening, several of our members will be present to make sure he’s doing okay, and check in to make sure he has all the provisions that he needs. As well as promoting and increase the donations. It’s our pleasure to be able to support him, we love what he’s doing.”
On Wednesday Elizabeth and her mother Jessica Barclay came to see Adams off on the trip, along with several members of KBPHA and the American Legion Post 217. A smiling, but pale, Elizabeth ran to Adams, who swooped her up in his arms and told her he’d brought her some candy.
If the trip had gone as planned, Adams would have arrived back at Truman Dam on Sunday, Jan. 5, which is Elizabeth’s fifth birthday.
“She’s got acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” Jessica said. “Back in June we had to go up (to the hospital) because they thought she was going into liver failure, but it turned out that she wasn’t. She was one lung bigger than the other and she has some gristle on her liver, but they said it wasn’t going to hurt anything.
“They’ve increase chemo five times, and actually just had to decrease it. Back in November we were up there at Children’s Mercy a week and a half because she had strep in her blood, and her counts were way down. We even took her out of pre-school because of all of it.”
Since November Elizabeth has done well, her mother said. Although they had to visit the emergency room four days ago because she had a fever.
“As of right now she’s doing alright,” she added. “Like I said they slowly decreased chemo back in November, they decreased it a lot. I’m talking about not even half the dose she was taking and they are slowly increasing a little again.”
Jessica said the doctors have talked about a bone marrow transplant.
“It’s a possibility. Back when we were up there in November, they were showing blast cells, which are cancer cells in her blood. Her doctor came to me and said that she feared that her cancer had came back. I said I hope that’s not the case. She’s not even in remission she’s in maintenance, right now.
The doctor said she wanted to keep checking Elizabeth’s blood for a few days and found the cells were only premature white cells.
“Thank goodness that’s what it was,” her mother added.
If the situation changes Elizabeth will require a bone marrow transplant.
“If it ends up showing blasts cells, I already talked to the doctor and said ‘What would our next step be if it comes back?’ She said, ‘For one get her brother and sister and see which one would be a good match for a transplant.’”
She said the doctor also said they would try a different type of chemotherapy.
Mills said some donations have already come in that has helped support Elizabeth.
“Johnnie has the potential with this fund raising opportunity to have reached over one-quarter of a million dollars raised,” Mills said. “This will be his third time rowing, and so that’s pretty exciting. And it’s dangerous, if his canoe tips hypothermia would set in quickly.”
To help raise awareness, Adams has recently appeared on KCTV5 in Kansas City, spoke on the syndicated talk show Wakes, Waves and Buoys, and also on an all night talk show in Cincinnati, Ohio and has given interviews to several Missouri newspapers including the Sedalia Democrat and the Kansas City Star.
Those interested in donating to help Elizabeth may send contributions for Row for the Dough to “Friends of Grizzly Medical Aid Fund,” in care of Hawthorn Bank, P.O. Box 217, Warsaw, Mo. 65355.