Neil Liechty doesn't know Joshua Zalunardo.
He doesn't attend King's Pasture the church at which Joshua's father Gino Zalunardo is the pastor. Still, this Sunday he'll be turning over the proceeds from his business Butt's Mill Farm to the Zalunardos. He'll be letting customers in at a discount price.
"I've heard they are good people having a hard time," said Liechty. "I know the father does good work in the community. Helping out just seemed liked the thing to do." Joshua is 14 years old. The Hamilton, Ga. youth, who would be a freshman at Harris County High, has a brain stem glioma, a tumor that is often fatal.
Physicians aren't able to remove the tumor but the Zalunardos are praying for a miracle. They're hoping it will shrink. Joshua's mother Diedere is constantly by her son's side. Liechty heard that the family's medical bills are astronomical. "It's the type of situation where you want to help. You just thank God that someone in your family isn't in that situation," he said. Butts Mill Farm — admission on Sunday will be just $10 for ages 9 and $ 5 for others — features numerous fun activities such as a huge indoor discovery zone for the little ones, a water slide, hay rides, tractor rides, pony rides, miniature golf, paddleboats, etc.
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"A lot of ways to have fun," said Leichty. The park will be open from 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Joshua's tumor was discovered on June 1. "Joshua was just feeling very weak so we took him for a checkup," said his father. Joshua had surgery Aug. 10 and surgeons removed 30 percent of the tumor, the portion, his father explained, that wasn't connected to the brain stem. Joshua has already undergone 33 treatments of chemotherapy and radiation. The left side of his body isn't paralyzed, but is numb. "Joshua is getting some strength back," said Zalunardo. "There have been a lot of people praying for him. There is a doctor in Houston, Texas who is doing a clinical study and has had some success with this type of tumor using medication. We plan to get Joshua out there in about four weeks." The cost will be more than $50,000. Insurance will pay none of the bill. "That's one reason we're so grateful to the good folks at Butts Mill," he said. "Joshua needs all the help he can get."