FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2015
For more information,
Contact: Amanda Shell Jennings
Proceeds to benefit Greene County child with brain seizures
When US Nitrogen’s construction team contacted Greeneville High School Football Coach Andy McCall so his daughter could be the beneficiary of its second annual Poker Run, McCall was astonished at the support from the community.
“They had to explain it to me two or three times,” McCall said. “When he said they wanted to help us, my wife started crying. You can’t describe that feeling of someone wanting to reach out just because they want to help us.”
When Penelope McCall was 5 months old, she was diagnosed with a brain abnormality called polymicrogyria (PMG), which caused infantile spasms. The diagnosis began a journey for Penelope and her parents, Andy and Ellen McCall, that led to numerous visits with doctors, surgeries and high-powered medications and trips to the Tennessee Legislature to lobby for the use of an unorthodox treatment, cannabis oil.
US Nitrogen, its construction team and local contractors working on the facility will host the Second Annual Poker Run on Saturday, June 13. Last year, more than 80 motorcycle riders turned out for the event and raised more than $11,300 for a local charity. This year, the event organizers have selected the McCall family as the recipient of the proceeds.
“When we began planning for the second annual Poker Run, we met with our team leaders and decided we wanted to give back to a needy family in the community,” said Victor Smith, construction manager for US Nitrogen. “We knew that the funds raised through this event would deeply impact the quality of life for Penelope and for the McCall family.
“We are hoping to grow the amount of riders and sponsors for the event this year to be able to present the McCalls with a substantial gift.”
Penelope is now 10 months old, and her seizures have delayed her development, almost freezing her growth at the time she was diagnosed.
“It’s almost like when she was having the seizures, she would have to reset herself and she couldn’t advance,” Andy McCall.
When first diagnosed, Penelope was prescribed potent medications, such as Klonopin and Sabril, which can have severe side effects. The high doses made Penelope lethargic.
In May, Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill into law that legalized the use of cannabis oil for medical treatment. The McCalls are currently transitioning Penelope to the natural cannabis oil, and she is beginning to smile and be more responsive.
There is one major downside: Cannabis oil is not covered by insurance. Each bottle costs $300-$350, and the price will increase as Penelope grows. Add to this cost the visits to medical specialists, physical therapy, occupational therapists and unexpected surgeries, and the medical bills continue to rise. Ellen McCall also recently left her job as a school nurse at Highland Elementary School to take care of Penelope at home.
“The financial aspect is stressful for all families, but when you add in medical bills and everything that goes along with caring for a special needs child, we have many worries trying to do what’s best for her,” Andy McCall said. “Any support, whether it’s a kind word or a check, makes those worries a little bit less, and we can put effort into the other parts. We can stop worrying about our financials, and we can worry about her.”
Motorcycle riders interested in participating in the charity Poker Run and supporting the McCall family should register with their bike at the US Nitrogen parking lot at 471 Pottertown Road on June 13, at 8:30 a.m.
The ride will begin at 10 a.m. and finish at the Colboch Harley-Davidson in Morristown. The riders will travel a 97-mile loop, stopping at designated areas to collect playing cards from volunteers until each riders has a full hand of poker.
Participants will be greeted with live music by the band, Grits from Dumplin Valley, and served Big Barney’s BBQ at the end of the ride. Cash prizes will be awarded to the rider with the best hand and the worst hand of poker.
Though the event is a fun day, Smith said he hopes companies and individuals will participate however they can to support the McCall family.
“This is going to be a lifelong struggle for Penelope,” Andy McCall said. “Even though her seizures are gone now, we could wake up tomorrow, and they could return. We live day-to-day. These funds will open doors and possibilities for things she might not have been able to have and help us be prepared for the unexpected. To say we’re grateful is an understatement.”
Current Poker Run sponsors include Summers-Taylor Inc.; TEC Industrial Maintenance & Construction; Mico Industrial Services; Renfrow Brothers Industrial Contractors; Eastern Industrial Supplies, Inc.; IPI, Inc.; Performance Contractors, Inc.; Technology Plus, Inc.; Southern Design Services; Ford, Bacon & Davis; Miller Land Surveying; C&C Millwright Maintenance Co., Inc.; Applied Technical Services; and US Nitrogen. The event also is supported by the Epilepsy Foundation of East Tennessee.
Corporate monetary and in-kind sponsorships are still available. For more information on sponsorships and to find out how to get involved, call Nikki Strange at 423-422-2159.
Participation in the Poker Run cost $15 per rider. An extra passenger on the same bike will cost $5. Participants should register and pay at US Nitrogen, 471 Pottertown Road, at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 13. The poker run will begin at 10 a.m.
About US Nitrogen
Located in Greene County, Tenn. US Nitrogen is a state-of-the-art facility that will produce ammonium nitrate for industrial purposes. US Nitrogen’s state-of-the-art facility represents a more than $200 million investment in the Greene County community – the largest capital investment in Greene County history. The company will provide more than 80 technical, high-paying jobs to the region. US Nitrogen LLC is a subsidiary of Cleveland, Ohio-based Austin Powder Company, a global leader in industrial explosives used in mining operations around the world.