A block party event called Caring for Caris will be held all day on Saturday, April 22 to raise funds for Caris Sheldon, a 10-and-a-half-year-old girl from Bolivar who was born with cerebral palsy.
In cooperation with Brandon and Brittny Stockstill, owners of Bowl Behavior and the newly-established art studio called Stockstill Studios, a number of businesses (primarily near the intersection of South Springfield Avenue and East Aldrich Road) are inviting the community to shop at their stores where they will give a percentage of proceeds or services to help cover Sheldon’s medical expenses.
Some of the businesses and organizations involved in the event include Bowl Behavior, Reflections Salon, Reflections Photography, Honey Soul Massage, Lotus Tea Co., Maurices, Rob Luck Real Estate Group, Sweet Creek & Co, The Drip Spa, 417 Beauty Bar, NoBaked Cookie Dough, Nicci's Art Box, and Life Church Bolivar.
The event will coincide with the grand opening of Stockstill Studios, which will feature painting classes at various times throughout the day. The Stockstills plan for their studio to be a nonprofit, but they say that the process to get the licensing can be expensive. Promoting creativity in the community, they hope to support local artists, help fund art projects in the area, and give individuals and groups a chance to take paint lessons.
With their new studio, the couple also hopes to help fund and benefit direct needs in the local area. Focused on doing good for the community, the Stockstills organized the Caring for Caris event upon meeting Sheldon’s mother, Jessica Jones.
“I’ve gotten to know Jessica and her family. Since we opened, they’ve been regular customers, and they’ve shared their struggles with us,” says Brittny Stockstill. “I can see Jessica has persevered and been positive for Caris, and Caris is just one of the most sweet and positive girls I’ve ever met. I believe she deserves healing and to connect with every avenue to find that healing. Jessica grew up in this community her whole life, and I can't wait to see the community that she’s given to give back to her.”
To seek treatment for Sheldon’s cerebral palsy, Jones transported her daughter to Shriners Hospital in St. Louis.
“They decided to move my tendons around to put my foot straight, because my foot was crooked,” said Sheldon. “So then our goal was to put it straight. But then once they moved my tendons, they saw a bone was sticking out that really hurt, because they said that, 'Since your foot was deformed for so long, then you couldn’t see the bone and you couldn’t feel it.' Once we put it straight, it kind of started pulling out and sticking out. So then they shaved that down, but then my stitches formed abscesses.”
Among many difficulties, Sheldon explained that she has been in and out of foot casts, and she and her mother then decided that none of the treatments that they had been trying had proven effective so far.
In November 2022, Sheldon was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a state of prolonged pain that Jones says causes problems with Sheldon’s nerves.
Sheldon says that she visited a doctor in Kansas City who explained to her that CRPS is when a person’s nervous system listens to itself instead of listening to the brain.
Due to this condition, Sheldon hasn’t been able to walk on her own since October of last year.
“She does some walking, but it’s such high pain that she really can’t. Touching it, she has a couple of syndrome pains in her foot. And the stitch abscesses, they are the craziest things ever. They were still in there. She just recently got the last of them out,” Jones said.
After this diagnosis, Sheldon switched doctors and as her mother says, it took a lot of advocating to try to find out what was causing the problem with Sheldon’s foot.
Currently, a specialist with Southwest Baptist University oversees Sheldon’s exercise regimen.
Over time, Sheldon’s calf muscle began shrinking and becoming weaker, so she has been working on strengthening her leg.
Sheldon described some of her difficulties at school, saying that she would run into things or that other students would bump into her.
“I go to the nurse like two times in one day to get an ice pack, and then if that doesn’t help, I call Mom,” Sheldon says.
Because she is now unable to attend school, Sheldon does her schoolwork with a teacher after regular school hours.
Upon a visit to her doctor in Kansas City, Sheldon received a shot to help with the pain. The shot did the trick, allowing her to stand without help. However, while the shot usually remains effective for up to two days, Sheldon says the effects of the shot quit working after a handful of hours.
“My pills and my shots just don’t stay long enough to actually enjoy it,” Sheldon said.
She also regularly sees a chiropractor and massage therapist to help ease the pain in her muscles.
“Her having cerebral palsy and then Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and just being ten, it’s like those are things that nobody’s ever seen," Jones says. "It’s just…nobody knows what to do. All those pills that were supposed to help with that, she can’t take. She has horrible side effects.”
After visiting many doctors and trying various pain management treatments, they found a clinic in Arkansas that may offer some hope for Sheldon.
“We’ll never be able to cure it, but we can put it in remission,” says Jones. “The doctor was very positive that she would benefit from this treatment.”
Receiving treatments at the clinic in Arkansas will also give Sheldon a chance to meet other people with cerebral palsy, an experience that she is very excited to have.
However, Sheldon’s treatments at the clinic will cost anywhere from $36,000 to $42,000, and Jones says the clinic won’t accept her insurance. While the family doesn’t have a specific fundraising goal, Jones says that anything helps.
In an effort to maintain positivity, Jones and Sheldon have decided to stop referring to Sheldon’s foot as “the bad foot.” Instead, the two have decided to call “the bad foot” Steve and “the good foot” Kwan, saying that they got the names from characters on a television show that mutually enjoy watching — Gilmore Girls. Thus, the Caring for Caris “I Heart Steve” Block Party will raise funds to provide treatments for “Steve.”
Sheldon says she is also looking forward to the block party tomorrow, hoping not only to raise money and awareness, but also to show the community how grateful she is for their support.
“It tells me that they actually care about me, and that nobody else, except adults, actually get me,” Sheldon says, clarifying that sometimes it is hard to explain her health issues to other kids her age. “It’s kind of sad how they don’t understand, and how they can’t see that people are actually hurting. So I just wanted to tell people that they’re okay, and that they’re not alone through this.”
Despite any complications that may come with her cerebral palsy and CRPS, she says that she loves showing others just how capable and strong she is.
For updates about the Caring for Caris event, visit the Facebook page for Bowl Behavior or Stockstill Studios.