A New Jersey man learned about a Cozad 5-year-old with pediatric brain cancer and decided to walk across Nebraska to raise funds for her.
Paishence Hansen started chemotherapy last December, and her family’s medical expenses have risen dramatically. Jim Hickey said he contacted Tara Meyer, Paishence’s mom, and asked if he could walk for her.
“From what I saw (Tara) wasn’t getting the help that she needed,” Hickey said. “I thought that needed to change.”
On Friday morning, Hickey was in North Platte, having started in Scottsbluff about three weeks ago. He averages about 21 miles a day.
“I started on Sept. 15, which is Paishence’s birthday,” Hickey said, “and September is also childhood cancer awareness month.”
Meyer said in a phone interview that she appreciates Hickey’s efforts.
“Jim’s walk means a lot to us,” Meyer said. “He’s helping our family out just with the love and support, getting the word out for pediatric brain cancer and for my daughter.”
Over the past four years, Hickey has left his hair uncut. On Friday morning, he stopped into Allure Salon at 203 S. Chestnut St.
This is the second time he has cut his hair to donate to Wigs for Kids. In 2013, a daughter of a friend had brain cancer, and Hickey promised her he would continue to donate his hair.
“This is the second time I’m cutting my hair in honor of Katie (Okolita),” Hickey said. “She passed away in 2014 at the age of 12.”
Kristina Moore did the honors of cutting Hickey’s locks, and Allure owner Shary Griesfeller will get the braided hair to Wigs for Kids.
“So far I’m 184 miles into my walk for Paishence,” Hickey said. “I ask people to donate directly to her GoFundMe. I don’t take donations (myself) for her whatsoever. That way there’s no question of impropriety.”
Hickey thanked Fairfield Inn and Holiday Inn Express for providing him a place to stay while in North Platte and the Eagles Club for their participation in the walk for Paishence.