Fundraiser set for 15-year-old Bainbridge boy

Friday, April 24, 2009
Dave, Stuart and Sara Owen, along with Bon Ton owners Mark and Sue Blake proudly display their histiocytosis awareness bracelets on the counter of the Bon Ton. The Bainbridge eatery will be hosting a fundraiser for Stuart's fight with histiocytosis on Saturday.

BAINBRIDGE -- Fifteen-year-old Stuart Owen doesn't look or act sick.

But inside his young body, there is a lot going on.

Stuart is suffering from Langerhan's cell histiocytosis (LCH), a rare type of brain tumor.

"It's not cancer, but it behaves like cancer and is treated like cancer," Stuart's father Dave said.

The tumor, which is on Stuart's pituitary gland, was found in October. The tumor has halted the production of anti-diuretic hormone in Stuart's body, and he will need hormone replacement therapy for the rest of his life.

Dave and his wife Sara first realized something might be wrong when Stuart couldn't quench his thirst.

"He started drinking a whole lot," Sara said. "Just insane amounts."

Because there is diabetes in the family, Sara and Dave worried that was what Stuart had.

A magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI) revealed the tumor.

LCH tumors fall into one of three subtypes, all of which require different types of treatment. The location of Stuart's tumor has made it impossible for doctors to determine which type his tumor falls into without doing a position emission tomography scan -- a nuclear medicine imaging technique that produces a three-dimensional image of functional processes in the body.

Without that scan, Stuart's treatment cannot begin.

The Owens' insurance company will not foot the $10,000 bill for the test, calling it "experimental."

To help raise the money for the PET scan, Mark and Sue Blake, owners of the Bon Ton diner in Bainbridge, will donate 20 percent of Saturday's sales to the Owens.

"(The Owens) are regular Friday and Saturday night customers," Sue said. "This was just a way we thought we could help them."

Sue's parents, former Putnam County residents Carlos and Barbara Bucklew, have donated a week's stay in October at their condo in Panama City, Fla., to help out. A raffle for the getaway will be held at the Bon Ton at 8 p.m. on May 2. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at the diner.

Histiocytosis awareness bracelets are also being sold at the diner for $4 each.

No matter what happens, Stuart will undergo chemotherapy, radiation and steroid treatments. If the PET scan happens and treatments begin soon, the tumor will likely not spread and cause any damage.

Most children afflicted with LCH are much younger than Stuart.

"He's at the extreme high end of the age range," Dave said.

Stuart, an eighth-grader at North Putnam Middle School, said he feels fine. He said his friends know he's sick, "but don't make a big thing out of it."

"That's how I feel about it, too," he said.

Dave and Sara are proud of how well their son is coping.

"He knows that it's serious, but he also knows that it's treatable," Sara said. "He's old enough that the doctors talk directly to him, so he's not so scared."

Donations can also be made at the Bainbridge branch of Tri-County Bank.

Updates on Stuart's progress can be found at

View 5 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • Prayers and best wishes to the Owens family, and three cheers to the Bon Ton for its effort to rally friends and neighbors to help out a local family in their time of need. I grew up in Bainbridge and this is the community spirit I remember so well. It takes a village....and how blessed are those who reside in a village like Bainbridge.

    -- Posted by kmr46112 on Fri, Apr 24, 2009, at 7:12 AM
  • We will be praying for the Owens family. May you always remember the strength within you is always greater than the path in front of you. Excellent job to the Bon Ton, continue doing what God asks you to do. I will see you Saturday for good food and community fellowship.

    -- Posted by davidbblake on Fri, Apr 24, 2009, at 10:22 AM
  • Our prayers are with Stuart and his family as they deal with Stuart's health problems. How generous of the Bon Ton to assist with the fund-raising for this worthy cause. Wish we could be there for this event.

    -- Posted by greatstuff on Fri, Apr 24, 2009, at 12:15 PM
  • We are praying for Stuart and his family. May God give you the strength you need in this journey. Many thanks to the Bon Ton for helping out. Our family will BE there on Saturday! I am so proud to live in this community! :)

    -- Posted by John3:16 on Fri, Apr 24, 2009, at 1:11 PM
  • Thank you so much for all your support this is an amazing community!

    Stuart's Mom

    -- Posted by sarahhowen on Mon, Apr 27, 2009, at 3:53 AM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: