By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
What kind of plans do you have for Valentine’s Day? If you’ve made no plans yet, you might want to think beyond yourself and attend the “Jack of Hearts” Valentine party that will be held at The Days Inn on Tolley Drive in Bridgeport.
You don’t have to get dressed up; you can come and go as you please … but from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Saturday, February 13th, it will be all about Jack!
The “Jack of Hearts” in this case is Jack Rollins of Bridgeport, a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy who is about to turn five years old. He is a devoted fan of Super Heroes and loves Legos. Sounds typical enough! However, what is atypical is that this little fellow was been battling Neuroblastoma since he was two years old!
Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that forms in nerve tissue. Despite his young age, Jack has experienced things that even adults find trying and frightening! He’s been through surgeries, radiation therapy and numerous chemotherapy treatments. But, like the Super Heroes he worships, Jack’s theory is that “tough things make you stronger”.
Jack attends Bridgeport United Methodist Preschool when he is able. His teacher last year, Tina Bulka, organized a Valentine fundraiser to benefit the Rollins family. It was such a success that it is returning again this year!
“This little boy is just such a special child,” Bulka said. Everyone is drawn to him; everyone who meets him falls in love with him. He is making a big mark in this life. And I wanted to do something to help. This party was a vision from God and my way to do that. Everyone at last year’s party had such a good time and it was so well supported that it’s making its second appearance this year.”
Tina noted that on the day of last year’s party, a blizzard hit the area. Although she expected that it would cut down on attendance and participation, that was NOT the case!
“We had such great support! It was very humbling. We even had people come in off the street, make a donation and leave – due to the bad weather. But those who stayed had a wonderful time and enjoyed thinking beyond their own Valentine’s Day celebration,” she continued.
Once again, The Days Inn in Bridgeport is donating their space for the event. And, again, many talented local bakers will be donating lots of sweet treats to be enjoyed. Starbucks is also providing coffee for a coffee bar … and ‘Gideon’s Call’, a local Christian band, will donate their time and talents to provide live entertainment.
Having all these wonderful people donate our space, our sweets, coffee and even entertainment is such a blessing,” Bulka concluded. “What this means is that 100% of what is donated goes directly to the family. Last year’s party gathered over $1,600 for the Rollins family and we’re hoping to do at least that well this year.”
Jack has a Facebook page called “Jack’s Journey” where those concerned can follow his progress. Donations can also be made online. Or, if you would like to help the family, you can also mail contributions to Team Jack, PO Box 395, Bridgeport, WV 26330.