The gift of a child: When $1 is worth $1M

MILFORD — Five-year- old Neveah Randall recently lost her first tooth and received a visit from the tooth fairy shortly after. But instead of pocketing her dollar or purchasing something for herself, she made a heartfelt sacrifice.

Neveah gave that dollar to Doris Koons, saying, “I want you to have this dollar for cancer so you can get Stephen back,” Ms. Koons recalled.

She had been grieving the loss of her son Stephen who died from cancer a couple of years ago. This year, she received a surprising phone call from her other son Chuck Henry requesting her help. “Mom, I think helping to raise money for cancer would help you,” she recalled him saying.

Her son needed help fundraising for the Pennsylvania Hope Ride scheduled for June 25 when bicyclists will ride to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

But Ms. Koons wasn’t sure it would help.

Her grief counselor urged her to reconsider and she began fundraising door-to- door in her own neighborhood for her son’s upcoming bike run, eventually moving on to other neighborhoods and local businesses.

Five-year-old Neveah Randall didn’t know how far her dollar would actually go when she gave it to Doris Koons “for cancer.” She is seen here with Ms. Koons and Rosemarie Lehman. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

Five-year-old Neveah Randall didn’t know how far her dollar would actually go when she gave it to Doris Koons “for cancer.” She is seen here with Ms. Koons and Rosemarie Lehman. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

Neveah and Rosemarie Lehman, who knew of Ms. Koons from church, offered to help.

“Our first day, I forgot all my problems,” she said. “I was really excited. In my heart, I know it’s going to help another mother.”

Like many other 5-year- olds, Neveah had an inquisitive mind and was curious as to why the women were raising money.

“So we said cancer took Stephen’s life. He’s in heaven. Then she started to cry,” Ms. Doris said.

Ms. Lehman added, “I think she really thought the money would help bring Stephen back. We didn’t tell her it wouldn’t. She was just trying to rationalize why we were collecting money for someone in heaven.”

For Ms. Koons, the child’s gesture was worth far more than $1 after receiving negative comments towards her fundraising efforts.

“She was so sincere. The look on her face was worth more than $1 million to me. I really lost it,” she said. “I mean, how can people be so nasty? Don’t slam a door. No is fine. We take no for an answer.”

This experience has helped Ms. Koons move forward, she said. “My grief counselor asked if I would go back to grieving after this and I said no. After this is over, I’m going to find the cancer center in Milford and I’m going to help out.”

To help Ms. Koons and her son reach their fundraising goals, call her at 302-725-5555.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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