When you're told your five-year-old ball of energy has leukemia, it's easy to feel powerless.
Mittie and John Fox of Grant Park, learned last year that their oldest child, Owen, was suffering from leukemia and that he would need to undergo 3½ years of treatment.
"You can fall into a heap, or try to find a way to make a difference," Mittie Fox told East Atlanta Patch. "And I think we're definitely doing that."
The family is making that difference by raising money and walking to raise awareness, about blood cancers to further research for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
"Hopefully, we are making a difference and hopefully we'll stop it. That’s our goal," Mittie Fox said.
Team Owen, as the Foxes' group is called, is getting plenty of help from relatives, Grant Park neighbors, businesses such as Six Feet Under and Owen's school, Wesley International Academy in Custer/McDonough/Guice.
The team, which numbers 50 strong, will march on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 5 p.m. in Centennial Olympic Park in the Georgia Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's annual Atlanta Light The Night Walk.
The walk encourages teams of families, friends, co-workers and local and national corporations to come together to raise funds for LLS.
This year's walk is expected to include more than 8,000 participants representing 300 teams with a goal of raising $1.5 million in research money and family support programs.
Walkers will carry illuminated balloons — white for survivors, red for supporters and gold in memory of loved ones lost to cancer.
Team Owen, which was formed last year by Angela Russell, a neighbor of the Foxes while they were in the hospital with him, raised $18,000 for the 2011 walk.
This year, Team Owen has raised more than $65,000 through individual contributions as well as fundraisers held at Six Feet Under and the Alan Avery Art Co., owned by Grant Park resident Alan K. Avery.
At Wesley International Academy, where Owen is a second grader, the school held dress-down days to raise money for Team Owen.
His treatments meant he had to miss 65 days of school last year but the charter school made arrangements for a teacher to go to his home each week to ensure he kept up with his classmates in his studies.
Owen was named the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Boy of the Year and he went to school to explain to his classmates and teachers what he was going through and why he'd lost his hair and how his end goal is "kicking cancer's butt."
All of the outpouring of help and encouragement from neighbors, family and friends has been a blessing and a welcome silver lining Mittie Fox said has been a source of strength.
"The support from this community has been overwhelming," she said.
"We didn’t know how deep our connections were and it's been so heartwarming to see.
"This team and our supporters have really pulled us through in this time in our lives."
It made an impact on little Owen, now 7 years old, too, she said.
In last year's walk, Owen couldn't walk because of the treatments so his parents pulled him in a wagon.
He was moved and surprised by all of the walkers who came out in support of him and the cause, she said.
"He looked at me at one point and said, 'Mommy, do all these people really care about me?' "
If you'd like to pledge to Team Owen, you may go to the team's page to make a donation.