Eight-year-old Justin Richardson almost missed the benefit auction he had been looking forward to Saturday.
Suffering from leukemia, Justin was also diagnosed with pneumonia Saturday and was kept in the hospital until later that afternoon while the benefit auction in his name was in full swing at Payson Bowl.
About one hour after the benefit started, though, Justin's mother wheeled the young Julia Randall Elementary student into the bowling alley, which was jam-packed with people raising funds for the Richardson family.
Local auctioneer Larry Everhart donated his services for the benefit and helped raise more than $6,000 for the family of the young patient.
Justin was first diagnosed with cancer when he was three years old. He's undergone chemotherapy for three years, at which time doctors reported that his disease was in remission.
But on Nov. 3, just a year later, the disease returned.
"The treatment is really aggressive this time because it's the second time around," said Bobbi Hlavacek, Justin's day-care provider and one of the auction's organizers.
Hlavacek and Vicki Ely, a family friend and owner of Road Runner Rubbish Removal, said Saturday that they hoped to raise between $3,000 and $5,000 for the family's medical and travel expenses. Justin has been hospitalized every three weeks since November.
"The money is going for medical needs," Ely said, "and going back and forth to the Valley and whatever the insurance doesn't cover."
"We have a ceiling on our insurance," said Justin's father, Gary Richardson. "That's our big concern right there."
He was at the auction with Justin's five-year-old brother, Dylan, and 18-year-old sister, Nikki.
"He averages every three weeks in the hospital," Gary Richardson said. "They told us, 'once a month, plan on it,' but I tell you, he's got the attitude of a trooper."
Justin turned eight years old Dec. 14. Christmas was spent in the hospital this year.
Now the family is looking for a bone marrow donor.
"His little brother was not a match -- none of us were matches," Justin's father said. "So we're looking and checking with the National Register.
"We just can't thank the town enough -- and all our friends, too. They stood behind us 100 percent."
People wanting to contribute to the Richardson family can send donations to The Charitable Funds Account at Bank One, account number 49725133.
Friends are also raffling off a 7mm Mauser rifle. Tickets are $1.00 and are available at Payson Bowl and Gonzales' Veterinary Clinic. Tickets can also be purchased by calling Vicki Ely at 474-0603 or Bobbi Hlavacek at 472-7498. The drawing will be Feb. 29.