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Dinner, bake sale honor memory of man who battled leukemia

Valerie Belk thinks she’s a bit selfish, but it’s how she keeps her son’s memory alive and helps others at the same time.
In 2005, her son, Rodney Neale Brown, died at the age of 18 after a battle with leukemia.
He spent his last Christmas at Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem. Two years after his death, the family began raising money to benefit families who have to spend their holidays at the hospital, just as they had done.
Belk and daughter, Stephanie Brown, are organizing a spaghetti supper this weekend with proceeds going toward that effort.
“This is the fifth year we’ve done this, and every year we take the money and give it to the families on Christmas Eve,” Brown said.
The supper is Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Concordia Lutheran Church, 185 Concordia Church Road, China Grove. There is no set cost per plate, but the family asks for donations.
Belk spent June 2004 to the end of December 2005 in the hospital by her son’s side.
“I know how expensive it can be,” she said.
Whatever money is raised is hand-delivered to the nurses’ station at the hospital.
The family doesn’t meet the people they’ve raised money for, but do send a letter telling the recipients about Rodney and why they give.
“We thank them for accepting the gift because it keeps his memory alive,” Belk said.
When the family arrives at the Winston-Salem hospital, they park the car in the same parking deck Belk parked in for more than a year.
Brown’s 6-year-old daughter, Riley Nicole Herge, who was born a month after Rodney died and shares the same initials as her uncle, will have a bake sale to raise money for the cause.
The bake sale will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 15 at R&R Consignment, 200 N. Main St., Faith.
“My granddaughter knows this is how we remember him. It’s touching because Riley Nicole has a huge connection as far as we are concerned. She talks about him as if she knew him,” Belk said.
Those who aren’t able to attend the fundraiser but would like to contribute can donate through R&R Consignment or by contacting Valerie Belk at 704-232-0600 or Stephanie Brown at 704-232-0421.

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