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O's legend Cal Ripken Jr. agrees to help Keedysville boy

December 13, 2006|by BOB MAGINNIS

Devin Fales, the Keedysville child afflicted with a rare form of anemia that causes bone marrow failure, is now halfway through his 100-day stay in Minnesota, where's he's being treated at the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital.

When he comes back he'll find that Cal Ripken Jr., one the legends of baseball, has taken up his cause.

According to Don Shumaker, president of First Hose Co. of Boonsboro, Ripken agreed to sign, at no charge, a New York City firefighters' helmet emblazoned with No. 8 and his name.

Ironclad Authentics, a division of Ripken Baseball, took Shumaker's request for a free signing to its board, which Shumaker said approved the idea.

As part of the company's pledge to verify that all of its signed memorabilia is authtentic, the company photographs the signing.

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Shumaker said he has copies of two photos, including one with Ripken signing the helmet, the other with him wearing it.

The helmet will be on display Saturday, Jan. 20, at a bonanza fundraiser at the Cochran Auction Theater in Boonsboro. Though Shumaker plans to sell the helmet on eBay, Ironclad's Brad Knauss confirmed that his firm is bringing other signed Oriole memorabilia for a silent auction that night.

Doors will open at 4 p.m., dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and the dance will begin at 9 p.m.

Tickets are $30 each and will include a catered meal and a dance with a DJ. For ticket information, call the fire company at 301-432-2348 or Shumaker at 301-432-8605 or 301-964-8605.

And how is Devin doing? He's been through the bone-marrow transplant and recently went through a bout of what his mother said was graft vs. host disease.

I know this because she has created a Web page for Devin on www.carepages.com.

Information on the site says that CarePages was started by Eric and Sharon Langshur, whose newborn son, Matthew, was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.

To keep everyone updated, they built a simple Web site that they could update and that people could e-mail to. Now they've built it into a company that they say serves more than a million families worldwide.

On Dec. 6, Devin's mother, Crystal Fales, posted an item that suggested that the boy had had a tough weekend.

"Last Friday Devin complained that his mouth hurt and he thought he had some ulcers in his mouth. I didn't think anything of it at the time because Devin got ulcers a lot before the transplant.

"Well, on Saturday Devin had a small rash on his chest and was running a low-grade fever," she said.

After blood tests and chest X-rays, the doctor made a diagnosis.

"Well, the doctor says that Devin had a mild case of GVHD, graft vs host disease. They say that the T-cells from the new donor know that they are in a foreign place and are in there fighting. Once they are comfortable with their new home, they will settle down and be fine.," Mrs. Fales said.

By Friday the rash was almost gone, she said, but as you read the series of posts, you get the feeling that there is not much time to relax, given that she also has the couple's 15-month-old son, Cole, with her.

It is not all gloom and doom, however. Other posts talk about Devin doing things such as baking cookies, laughing at silly movies and playing with other children.

But as Shumaker told me, "I don't want anyone to think he's going to come back cured. He's still going to have a tough road ahead of him."

They told me previously that when Devin returns, they may have to build a new hypoallergenic home because Devin will be susceptible to fungus, mold and things that grow unseen.

In other words, the Fales still need help.

f you have healthy children and don't have to spend this winter watching them suffer in a place where the outside temperature can reach 30 below zero, consider helping the Fales family get through the next year.

To do that, you may go to any branch of Hagerstown Trust and contribute to the First Hose of Boonsboro/Devin Fales Benefit Account, No. 155007179.

Thanks for anything you can do.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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