Staff Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press Wendy Ransom is the Jefferson Award winner raising $300,000 with her Emily's Power for a Cure organization. She holds her daughter Molly, 2, at the ceremony at T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital.
They call themselves the "Ransom Six."
The Ransom family is made up of Johnathon and Wendy and their children Jon Pat, Max, Molly and an angel, Emily.
Five years ago, Emily Ransom lost her battle with neuroblastoma, a primarily infant and childhood cancer that starts in the adrenal glands, which produce hormones that regulate heart rate, blood sugar and blood pressure.
Wendy Ransom explained that her family members call themselves the "Ransom Six" because, if they are out together, people only see five of them.
"We never want others to forget that Emily is a part of our family," Wendy Ransom said. "She's always there with us. There are just times we wish we could hug her."
But out of tragedy came Emily's Fight for a Cure, a nonprofit organization begun by Johnathon and Wendy Ransom to support children and families dealing with neuroblastoma.
"It's not me -- it's Emily," Wendy Ransom said. "Everything I do, Emily would have done better, but I do my best to do what she would want me to do. I'm still just her mom."
Wendy Ransom was given the Jefferson Award this month as recognition for her outstanding service to the community.
Her mother, Carol Daugherty, nominated her.
"Emily is still fighting with us to rid the world of that horrible cancer. Emily has changed her little corner of the world through Wendy," Daugherty said.
Since Emily's Fight for a Cure began in 2006, the organization has raised nearly $700,000 by running in the Country Music Marathon in Nashville and putting on the annual Pink Bandana Ball. The event is a casual dinner and silent auction featuring donated prizes such as beach vacations and children's playhouses.
Donations to Emily's Power for a Cure are used to support efforts to find a cure for neuroblastoma and provide simple comforts, such as a home-cooked meal, to families with a child in the hospital.
Another accomplishment for the charity was donating $300,000 this year toward a pediatric computerized tomography (CT) scanner for T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital.
The Western-themed, child-friendly area that houses the new pediatric scanner had its grand opening Tuesday.
Mindy Sanders, whose son is in remission from neuroblastoma, described the great need for the new equipment, citing her own experience.
The adult scanner produced a "poor quality" scan, she said, which incorrectly showed a spot on her son's liver even though he was in remission.
"We had 24 hours of tears and everyone in our community praying for him and just fear. If he had relapsed, he would have had a 90 percent chance of dying. Hopefully that scare won't happen to anyone else with the new CT scanner," Sanders said.
Contact staff writer Mary Beth Gray at mgray@times freepress.com or 423-757-6298.
For more information on how to support Emily's Power for a Cure, visit www.emilyspowerforacure.com.
ABOUT THE AWARDS
The Jefferson Awards were restarted locally in May by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, WRCB-TV and First Tennessee Bank.
In March, a local committee will select five honorees whose stories will be submitted to award officials in Washington, D.C. One of the award winners will be chosen to represent Chattanooga in the nation's capital for the national Jefferson Awards banquet.
Since 1972, the awards have been presented on the local and national levels. Each year a national winner is selected in four categories: elected or public officials, private citizens, people benefiting the disadvantaged and individuals 35 or younger.