cancer victim gets to know ITD trucks up-close
For a 9-year-old, Grant Pekuri already has faced more challenges than most adults confront in a lifetime certainly more than any youngster should be expected to face.
He was born with Fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited cause of mental impairment, second only to Down syndrome as a cause of mental retardation.
Then, a year ago he was diagnosed with leukemia, resulting in oral chemotherapy treatments every day for the next two and a half years and a spinal tap every 12 weeks.
Hes a champ; hes going through treatment so great, said Grants mother, Lynn Pekuri.
Despite what most would consider major setbacks, Grant doesnt sweat about the cards he was dealt. He finds pleasure in the simple things in life, for example big, loud trucks like the ones used by the Idaho Transportation Department.
ITD District 3 Project Manager Lisa Applebee, an avid cyclist, met Lynn while training for a race to raise funds for multiple sclerosis. When Lisa heard that Grants infatuation with big vehicles included not only city buses and earthmovers, but also ITDs Incident Response trucks, she immediately contacted District 3 Maintenance Supervisor Dick Powell about giving Grant a firsthand look.
Hed seen our green trucks out there and wanted to see them up-close, said Powell.
Grant, with his mother and Powell at his side, recently had an opportunity to see the Incident Response trucks and much, much more. Decked out in a bright green incident response shirt and hat, Grant was turned loose in the District 3 maintenance yard free to honk, climb and steer everything from pavers to snow plows.
Sometimes when we have nothing to do in the middle of the winter, we go out to the dump to see the trucks, said Lynn. I try and show him as many things as I can hes going through so much. Afterwards well watch videos of all the equipment.
According to Lynn, child leukemia has a successful cure rate of 85 percent and Grant is pulling through just fine. In some ways the Fragile X is a blessing in disguise, she said, because it makes him less aware of his affliction with cancer.
Providing this opportunity for Grant is one example in a long history of ITD employees, family and friends coming together to fight cancer and provide assistance to those suffering from it.
Lisa, along with District 3 Project Development Engineer Daris Bruce and his wife Carolyn, have participated in bike races that support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and a group of Headquarters workers raised funds in the Relay for Life, in support of colleague Linda Cassera who lost a long battle with cancer.