Community offers support to third-grader

Green Park Lutheran School pupils recently participated in “Jeans for Nicholas Day” to help with the medical expenses of third-grader Nicholas “Nick” George.

Nine-year-old Nick recently underwent surgery to remove a tumor on his brain stem, according to a news release issued by the school.

Green Park Lutheran School pupils and the community have pitched in to help Nicholas and his parents, Karen and Steve George.

For the “Jeans for Nicholas Day,” pupils had the opportunity to wear jeans to school instead of their school uniform if they were willing to donate $1 to help with some of Nick’s medical expenses. The event raised $1,500 to help the George family.

Nick underwent brain surgery in early April at Children’s Hospital and is in therapy now. He faces a long road to regain the full use of all the brain functions impacted by the surgery like speech and vision.

A follow-up MRI showed that the entire tumor that was visible to the surgeon was eliminated. Doctors expect a full recovery, but they don’t know how long it will take for Nick to get there, the release stated.

After the diagnosis, Karen George stated in the release, “News of Nick’s condition spread like wildfire.”

She called her pastor, the Rev. Rod Benk-endorf, assistant pastor at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Lemay. He and his wife, Sarah, sent out notice of the Georges’ situation to parishioners and school parents, and it wasn’t long before they were offering to help the George family.

One person who wanted to help was Maria Feltz, who works with the soccer program at Concord Vetta. When she learned of Nick’s condition, she wrote a letter to the St. Louis Steamers soccer team, asking them if there was anything they could do to help Nick. On April 9, the day before Nick’s surgery, two members of the Steamers team, Mike Apple and Mar-iano Bollella, visited Nick in the hospital.

They brought Nick a Steamers sweatshirt and a signed soccer ball and even played a little soccer in the hallway.

“Their visit really brought up Nick’s spirits,” Karen George stated. “It even relaxed him a bit.”

But the best thing about the visit was the offer the two players made to Nick. They told him that if he was well enough by April 22, they wanted him and as many friends as he liked to come to their championship game as their special guest.

This invitation was a real motivator for Nick to recover from surgery, and he was well enough to attend the Steamers’ April 22 playoff game. Nick and more than 160 of his friends were the special guests of the team. At halftime, the team presented Nick with a Steamers jersey and invited him to attend their final game as well.

Besides the moral support offered by the Steamers, the Georges have been overwhelmed with the care and outreach they have received from their church and school communities, the release stated. They’ve sent meals, helped with child care and offered help in a variety of ways.

Benkendorf spoke with the third-grade classes at the school to explain to them all that he could about Nick’s condition. He did the same for a class of first-graders, in-cluding Nick’s sister Abby.

Karen George and her family are grateful for all the help.

“Our church and school friends have really been there for us, and we can’t ex-press how much their help and prayers have meant to us,” she stated