Why St. Jude? Blue Valley student Jake Louis can tell you

Jake Louis is a healthy and active high school student.

But it's been a long road for the 17-year-old junior in the Blue Valley School District  - a road Jake and his family may have never paved if it weren't for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

When he was 7, Jake failed a vision screening at school.

His dad took the obvious next step, not realizing what was ahead.

"We went to an ophthalmologist on a Friday afternoon," Todd Louis said, "who sent us to Children's Mercy Hospital on Monday morning for an MRI.  Few hours later we were in our first surgery.  In doing the MRI they found a brain tumor."

Soon, they found out Jake had medulloblastoma, and the survival rate was about 50 percent.

"We got ourselves together and said ‘Where can I get a different answer,'" Todd Louis recalls. "Of course we were immediately on the phone with St. Jude."

Todd says they informed him of a protocol they had discovered that was getting an 85 percent survival rate for the same diagnosis. Within 10 days, they were on their way to Memphis.

Treatment for Jake was tough – 6 weeks of intense radiation and then chemotherapy.

But as bad as it was, Jake says St. Jude made it better.

"The walls are all painted different colors and everybody's friendly and they have specific teams like nurses whose only job is to make sure to play with kids or give them stuff to do," Jake said.

When you walk into the hospital, you're accompanied by a sense of hope, Jake says. "Like, ‘Wow, I'm going to beat this.' It just lightens your spirits."

Ten years later, Jake still goes back for checkups. Doctors want to know what long term effects he may experience.

An entire decade into treatments and checkups at St. Jude, his family has never been charged a dime.

St. Jude picks up the bill for treatment, groceries for families and even travel to the hospital.

"In that whole process, we had all kinds of bills not covered by insurance that we never had a bill for," Todd Louis explained. "Flights home, place to live, food to eat, transportation around town, everything.  They cover all of that."

All of this isn't cheap. It costs about $1 million a day to operate St. Jude.

That's why the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway is so important. For just $100, you can enter for a chance to win a brand new $550,000 home in Raymore, Mo.

For much more on the home, St. Jude and the contest, visit www.kshb.com/stjude .

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