Even superheroes need help sometimes

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 22, 2008

Four-year-old Felder Sartin, affectionately known to his fanclub as “Super Felder,” is not just fighting for truth, justice andthe American way. He’s also fighting for his life.

In late August, Felder was diagnosed with Acute LymphoblasticLeukemia and is currently undergoing outpatient treatments at BlairE. Batson Hospital for Children. ALL is a cancer of the white bloodcells and is most common in children.

Meanwhile, his parents Jessica and Gareth Sartin and his brotherEaston, 2, of Bogue Chitto, have a church family that wouldn’t justlet Super Felder fight by himself. Jessica’s Bible study group,which calls themselves “Secret Sisters,” came together to helpraise money and prayer support for the Sartins in their time ofneed.

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“When something goes wrong we just contact our Secret Sistergroup, it’s just the kind of fellowship that we have,” saidJessica’s cousin Becca Guynes. “We rallied around her, and we’ll behere to follow it the whole way through. Nobody asked any questionswhen we heard about it, we just got together and started doing whatwe could do to help.”

And Jessica says in her time of need, her “sisters” are the lifepreserver that keeps her afloat.

“I told Holly last night that I think that’s the only thing thatkeeps me going every day is knowing we have the prayer support fromour church,” she said.

Jessica’s longtime friend Holly Welch agreed that there wasn’teven a pause. As soon as Felder’s sickness was announced, theSecret Sisters were in action.

“Everyone was on board immediately doing what needed to be done.And it’s one of those things where you bear with them but you can’teven start to comprehend what they’re going through,” she said. “Istill step back and say I can’t believe they’re going through this,but they’re very strong in their faith and that’s brought them thisfar.”

The Secret Sisters group brainstormed ideas on how to make moneyto help support the Sartins’ medical bills, and needless to say,the prayer support has been constant.

The first order of business was a casserole bake sale the groupdid at their church, Calvary Baptist. While Secret Sisters expectedit to make a few hundred dollars, the turnout was far beyond theirexpectations, netting almost $3,000 to go toward the effort.

Meanwhile, the women came up with the idea of ordering rubbertheme bracelets and T-shirts to sell, and the idea of “Team Felder”was born. Guynes said the Both the bracelets and the shirts say”Team Felder.”

“We just all kinda got together and had a meeting on what wecould do to help them raise money, and everyone threw out ideas,”she said. “(Fellow Secret Sister) Toni (Leggett) found where wecould order bracelets, and basically we kept meeting until we cameup with what we needed to do to help.”

Meanwhile, friends of the Sartins stand amazed at how strongthey’ve been, but especially the courage of their young son.

“We call him Super Felder, because he’s all into Superman,Batman, Spider-Man and the other superhero guys,” Guynes said. “Wetell him, ‘You be strong, you be a superhero,’ so I think that’swhat he’s trying to do.”

Jessica Sartin said Felder is already doing much better afterthe first round of treatment, which to her already shows theevidence of God’s hands. But the treatment will have to continuefor two more years to make sure it is under control.

Guynes said Super Felder seems to understand that “his blood issick,” and that there will be times he needs to rest and times hewon’t feel so good, and that he’s accepted it with courage.

“He’s more tired than usual, but he’s at home,” she said. “Iguess he just can’t go as much as he would want to, he’s adapted tothe idea that ‘It’s time for me to rest now.’ He’s taking it betterthan most of us.”

Jessica Sartin said Felder’s superpowers seem to come fromsomewhere else, and he seems to be drawing strength from the prayersupport of his church family.

“He sometimes he pretends he’s Superman, but I feel like himresponding so well is a result of all the prayers,” she said.”There are so many kids going through this that are so much sicker,and I think he equates his doing so good as his being a superhero.But I definitely think it’s the prayers.”

And Felder has had practice as a superhero, as he was Supermanfor Halloween last year.

Any old Superman costume wouldn’t do either. Felder insistedthat his be perfect, and he made sure his sandy brown hair was dyedblack to match that of his big-screen counterpart.

“You can’t have a brown-haired Superman, that was his idea,”said Guynes. “So they went the whole nine yards for that.”

And Felder remembers to be brave when he takes his treatmentstoo.

His Caring Bridge Web site update for Monday said, “He says thathe’s feeling kinda like Superman right now and that it didn’t evenhurt when the nurse stuck him with that needle today because he hadon some special cream!”

Meanwhile, Welch said Jessica and Gareth have been prettysuper-strong too, with Jessica texting out updates on Felder assoon as she gets them from doctors, just to make sure her circle offriends is informed on his condition. And they forward the updatesfrom there, and the prayer goes out in a ripple effect.

“Whenever Felder’s going through a treatment, Jessica sends atext to our Secret Sisters group, and the message just forwards onanytime anything’s going on with him,” Welch said. “That’s how wecommunicate all day long.”

Meanwhile, it all boils down at home to knowing at the end ofthe day that Felder is in the hands of his Maker, Jessica said.

“We pray of course that he’ll get well, but also for us to bestrong and hold it together for our other child as well,” she said.”And that of course everything that happens will be God’swill.”