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Whitewater 10-year-old shuts down city block

--- Benefit block party set for May 25

Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

(Published May 21, 2007, 12:27 p.m.)

How can a 10-year-old boy close a city block without lifting a finger?

When he's made such an impression on those around him that they feel the drive to help unstoppable.

Ruth and Patrick Peterson live on a quiet neighborhood street in the heart of the town. Shawn and Patti Heckman became their neighbors.

Both families had young children and a lot in common.

Then in January, Patti gave the Petersons the bad news. Her oldest son, 10-year-old Zach, had been diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma-cancer.

It started with a cough. Then it seemed to be one of those bad winters for illnesses. Ultimately an X-ray told the story. A tumor in an inoperable area between Zach's lungs-an unusual place for this type of cancer.

The Petersons have watched their friends struggle to stay focused on their sick son, make all of the difficult decisions, keep their jobs and care for their other children, Logan, 8, and Anna, 5.

"They're facing astronomical medical bills as they fight for Zach's life," Patrick said.

As a member of The Pipe Circus, a local reggae/funk band, Patrick's thoughts went straight to organizing a huge benefit. He visualized Second Street filled with music, food, fun and beer to raise funds and fill the drive to help.

Some on the Whitewater City Council worried about liability risks or logistic issues, but the Petersons drive to help won them over.

The Second Street Hope Festival starts on Friday, May 25 at 6 p.m. and goes all night, moving into the Downstairs Sports Bar, 204 W. Main St. at 8-9 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Local musical pros performing are the Blue Olives, Missing String Band, Looper's Blues Caravan and The Pipe Circus and local vendors, kids' games, auctions, beer garden, raffles and door prizes fill in the rest.

"Zach is a kid who's always playful and inventive," Patrick said.

"We want more than anything for Zach to get better and realize the community is rooting for him."



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