Fairview Elementary Students Give Money to Child in Need

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COLUMBIA - Six-old-year Zion Slaughter is picking up the pieces after life's unpredictable puzzle started falling apart this spring. It all started when Zion began suffering from painful headaches.

Originally, doctors thought allergies were to blame, but later found a more serious issue.

"When more than one doctor came in I knew something wrong and I rather had took the brain tumor for him than for him to go through it, that's my baby," Zion's mom, Lonya Slaughter, said.

On April 3, doctors discovered a benign brain tumor growing slowly on Zion's brainstem. Lonya said when they told her numerous emotions went through her mind.

"Crying and hurting and pain, it was everything," she said.

Two days later, Zion underwent surgery to remove the tumor. The surgery weakened the muscles on his left side, making him appear as if he had a stroke. Zion spent more than a month at the hospital and Rusk Rehabilitation Center regaining his strength and mobility.

Now, he's home, out of the wheelchair, and taking the next steps to recovery. It includes physical, occupational and speech therapy three times a week. Doctors still have not decided whether or not Zion will be able to go back to school in the fall.

"It's pretty intense to get him back on track, one doctor after another doctor," Lonya said.

Since Zion's diagnosis, it hasn't been easy for his single mom of two to piece life back together.

"Just being the only one that has to take on everything, that's the hardest part," she said.

Lonya stays home to take care of Zion and her newborn son, taking a leave of absence from work. She said she find motivation from her kids.

"It's not really easy, but it makes you stronger."

While the financial woes grow, the support does too, just not from who you might expect. Turns out, it's children around Zion's age coming to the rescue.

"It made me feel happy because I like helping people," Fairview Elementary student Sophia Teddy said.

Students at Fairview Elementary held a school-wide fundraising competition, grade against grade.

"We usually have to beat the younger grades, instead of the older grades," said Fairview Elementary Student Genevieve Jones.

The grade that brought in the most pennies won and this year, the fourth graders came out on top. So, they got to decide where to donate the money. They ended up giving half of the money to the Coyote Hill organization and the other half, to Zion.

"This is so cool and I can't believe I'm doing this and I want to do this more and more in my life," Jones said.

The students heard about Zion from one of his family members, Tammy Milligan, who is also a paraprofessional at the school.

They later surprised her with around $100 to give to Zion and his family.

"They had heard my story and they knew me, and they wanted to do something kind for somebody that I knew of," Milligan said. "It was such a surprise to me I wasn't expecting it at all."

"It shows that they're humble...they thought about another child in need, which means they have really good hearts," Lonya said. "$100 is a big thing coming from kids."

Lonya said her family and friends are planning to organize a 5K run to benefit Zion sometime this month.