July 25, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Bar’s effort to cheer boy with tumor goes viral

CLEVELAND — Shannon Huffman is surrounded by hundreds of colorful “high five” hand tracings in the hospital room where he continues to recover from surgery to remove a tumor behind his eye.

“The whole idea is to try and keep the energy up in Shannon’s room,” said his dad, Joshua Huffman. “We want to keep a positive vibe going. We’ve got a little over 400 (of more than 1,000) up now, and we’re running out of space.”

Shannon, who is 8, is the grandson of Brian Frederick, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Lorain County.

“They caught the tumor through a routine eye screening at school,” Frederick said. “His family didn’t know anything was going on.”

A third-grader who lives in the Chardon area, Shannon was experiencing no problems with his vision, or having discomfort of any kind, Joshua Huffman said.
The tumor was removed Jan. 21, just days after it was discovered via MRI.

“It was growing and caused pressure on the optic nerve, which is right in front of it,” Huffman said.

“This just shows how important these school screenings are,” Frederick said. “It literally saved his life.”

All indications are that the tumor is benign.

The hundreds of “high five” tracings were made through the efforts of staff at Avon’s Two Bucks Bar & Restaurant, who saw some initial Facebook postings from a family member suggesting the hand tracings as a way to cheer Shannon.

Patrons were invited to trace their hands on paper with markers, write messages on them, and then cut them out to be sent to the boy’s grandparents, who live in North Ridgeville.

“It hit hard to home, especially being an 8-year-old boy,” Two Bucks server Toni Ginese said. “We just wanted to let him (Shannon) know that people know he is going through this. We wanted to give this little guy a bit of hope.”

At the time the restaurant sponsored the promotion, no one knew whether Shannon would require chemo and/or radiation following his operation.

It appears he won’t have to endure either, according to Frederick.

“Hopefully they got enough of it that he won’t require any ongoing treatment. He’s doing remarkably well.”

And, because of the reach of social media, the “high five” tracings have gone international.

“They have come from Brazil, Slovakia, Germany and Poland,” Huffman said.

“There was a preschool in British Columbia that sent cutouts of these little tiny hands,” Frederick said.

The hand tracings first papered the walls of Shannon’s ICU room at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus before they were taken down and moved when the youngster was doing well enough to be transferred to a regular room.

“It’s given the family (which includes June, age 4) a whole lot of support,” Frederick said.

Some family pets even got in on the act.

“We’ve got a few paw prints in there, too,” Frederick said.

Huffman, who works in the IT department of Progressive Insurance, described his son as “exceptionally bright” and a child who tends to act “like a little man.”
“He’s pretty amazing,” Huffman said. “At home he wakes up early on his own, takes a shower and sits on the couch in his robe like an adult.”

Huffman and his wife, Lindsey, are proud of their son’s upbeat demeanor and the kindness he’s shown to others during his ordeal.

“Even when people come to draw his blood, he’s polite to them,” Huffman said.

Contact Steve Fogarty at (440) 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.