Child with cancer inspires Loudon teacher's book
Proceeds from sales will help pay for medical
- Loudon Elementary School teacher Wesley Spurling had wanted to
write a children's book for several years.
After becoming aware of student Jacob Auchey's
battle against cancer, he found literary - and emotional -
As a result, the physical education instructor and
area high school and junior college basketball referee recently
penned "Books for Jacob," with the proceeds going to help pay for
Jacob's medical expenses.
The elementary-age-level book is based on
7-year-old Jacob's stay in Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in
Nashville for treatment for a brain tumor and the stories that were
read to him by Loudon teachers via a tape recorder after his cancer
severely restricted his vision.
Spurling said the motivation for the book started
shortly after he learned Jacob was re-diagnosed with a brain tumor
in 2007 while in the first grade. Jacob's teacher, Karen Bethel,
sent around a tape recorder to fellow teachers, asking them to read
stories that he could hear while undergoing treatment.
The stories gave Spurling, who had thought about
writing children's books for several years, an idea for his own
As a result, he got up one morning about 3 a.m.
after lying in bed awake and started scribbling story ideas on bills
and fliers he found.
"My wife came in about 4:30 a.m. and asked me what
I was doing, and I replied, 'I don't know, but I think I am writing
a children's book,' " said the Doyle High graduate, recalling the
incident with a laugh.
When the book was complete, Spurling published it
through authorhouse.com. Knoxville artist Gale Hinton did the
illustrations for free, and University of Tennessee women's
basketball coach Pat Summitt, with whom Spurling had become
acquainted while refereeing her summer basketball camps, agreed to
write the foreword.
A small number of copies were printed earlier, but
Spurling is actually reprinting the book to feature a dedication
page to Jacob, an idea suggested by the boy's grandmother, Freida
Hastings bookstore in Maryville will sell the
book, and radio stations B-97.5 and Star 102.1 are scheduled to do
Any proceeds from the book will go to a fund for
Jacob set up through Foothills Federal Credit Union in Loudon.
Jacob, who will turn 8 years old at the end of
June and is now in Susan Hackney's second-grade class at Loudon,
will undergo chemotherapy later this month after another slight
growth in the tumor was recently detected, his mother, Cindy Auchey,
A tumor had been found and mostly removed when
Jacob was nine months old, and he had no further problems until
2007, she said.
Despite the reoccurrence, the family remains
"Hopefully (the book) will bless their family,"
said Spurling, who has also taught Jacob in P.E. "He is just a
really, really neat kid."