Other young patients now helped to live


April 11, 1992|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,Staff Writer

The name of the Georgia family helped by the Roads to Recovery fund was reported incorrectly in a story and photo caption in yesterday's editions of The Sun. The correct name is O'Scott.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Chris Polk was a big-eyed boy who won a lot of hearts but lost his life to cancer. Nearly two years after his death, his legacy is helping others.

Chris, a courageous 9-year-old from Southwest Baltimore, died in 1990 after a grueling, four-year fight with cancer.

People held dances and raffled quilts to raise money to help pay medical bills for the brave and likable boy.

When he died, $1,700 remained in his trust fund. His father, Mike, decided to use that money to help other sick children and their families.


So Mike Polk and his wife, Della, started a non-profit organization called Roads to Recovery.

Their idea was to pay for transportation, lodging and related expenses encountered when critically ill young patients have to travel out of town.

Doctors and social workers at Johns Hopkins Hospital, among the places where Chris was treated, are on the lookout for families in need.

Roads to Recovery has found its first family.

It paid for Carl O'Small, 19, and his mother, Dorothy, to fly home to Fitzgerald, Ga., Friday after spending nearly three months in Baltimore.

Hopkins doctors removed a cancerous tumor from Carl's brain in January.

Then the young man underwent chemotherapy and a bone-marrow transplant.

It was the third cancerous tumor surgically removed from Carl's brain.

The first was when he was 12, the second when he was 16.

"He's doing real well," Mrs. O'Small said last week from her son's hospital room. "He's weak. But we're optimistic."

The O'Smalls drove from Georgia in January.

Carl is too weak to tolerate a two-day drive home. Roads to Recovery gave him and his mother airplane tickets.

"I just can't believe things like this exist," Mrs. O'Small said of the organization.

"We've just never run into people so helpful."

While in Baltimore she stayed at Hope Lodge, a 26-room inn near University Hospital. Run by the American Cancer Society, the lodge provides rooms for out-of-town cancer patients and their families.

"The people in Baltimore have been wonderful to us," said Mrs. O'Small, a registered nurse.

"We've been treated to some real Southern hospitality up here," she said.

That is what Della and Mike Polk had in mind.

From their journeys with Chris, they know that insurance does not pay travel expenses and that families often don't even consider the costs associated with a trip to an out-of-town hospital.

"It's the last thing parents think about -- lodging, parking, hot meals in the hospital cafeteria," said Mr. Polk, an exporter of electrical supplies.

"And where's that money going to come from? The next month's rent or mortgage or electric bill, that's where."

He said Roads to Recovery has received a few private donations, and now has $1,600. That's a start. The group is planning a large fund-raiser in the fall, he said.

"This is all in Chris' memory," Mr. Polk said.

"He was so full of love for other people. He never much worried about himself.

"People did so much for him. I had to give a little bit back."

Where to call

L For more information about Roads to Recovery, call 945-6761.

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