Friday, November 11, 2005

A Fundraiser for Eli

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #273, November 11, 2005)

PHOTO: Eli Knight

PHOTO CREDIT: Cynthia Dickinson

A family needs your help.

When the AIDS crisis first hit our community, we took care of our own. (We had to—the Reagan-era government wouldn’t.) Our community raised money to help people living with AIDS. Or they raised money for kids with AIDS or other life-threatening illnesses. We raised money for someone else’s kids—not our own.

How times have changed. Allow me to introduce you to Eli Knight.

Eli just turned 5 years old (his birthday was in September). He’s in preschool this year. He loves books and cars and riding his bike. He is an avid movie watcher who likes to learn the lines and repeat them later.

Eli Knight has cancer. While performing emergency surgery to remove his appendix, doctors discovered a massive tumor on Eli’s right kidney. The surgery to remove tumor, kidney and appendix took 8-1/2 hours. Eli will be in the hospital, recovering from the surgery, for two to four weeks.

At this writing, tests are still being done to determine what kind of cancer Eli has and what future treatment he will need. Up to six months of chemotherapy might be necessary.

Rumor has it that if Eli’s chemotherapy involves hair loss, a lot of people are going to be shaving their heads. That’s because Eli is part of a big family—a very big family. Eli’s parents are finding out just how big, and how caring, that family is.

In addition to his younger brother, Wyatt, Eli has two mommies (P.J. and Vicki Knight) and two daddies (David Coral and Bobbie Smith). Longtime readers of this column may remember P.J. and Vicki from “Baby on Board: Leather Lesbians on the Mommy Track,” in the Sept. 22, 2000 edition of Lavender.

All four parents are charter members of The Knights of Leather, so Eli’s extended family, in addition to grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, includes the rest of the members of the Knights and a lot of their friends as well. There are a lot of visitors to Eli’s room at St. Paul Children’s Hospital.

Eli’s younger brother, Wyatt, is 1-1/2 years old, and he recently needed some emergency medical attention when the tip of his thumb was almost completely severed. Fortunately, Wyatt’s doctors were able to reattach it, and it should be totally healed in about a year.

P.J. also is having some medical challenges. She, too, recently needed emergency surgery, also for a burst appendix. It was a very serious situation—according to her doctors, in another twelve hours the infection would have gotten into her bloodstream and she would have died. She spent six days in the hospital. She got out just ten days before Eli went into the hospital for his appendectomy.

While preparing her for surgery, P.J.’s doctors discovered the start of an artery blockage that eventually would lead to a heart attack. By the time you read this she will have undergone either an angioplasty or a stent placement.

Fundraisers for charitable causes long have been a part of our community’s traditions and culture. The tradition is still strong today—a recent community event raised over $8,400 for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The Knights of Leather are planning a fundraiser to help cover Eli’s and his family’s considerable medical bills. The event will be held at the Bolt (next door to the Minneapolis Eagle) on Saturday, Nov. 26 starting at 7 P.M. It will include a beer/soda bust, auction and other things that are still being planned.

Requested donation at the door will be $20 but no donation will be refused. Donations may also be sent to The Knights of Leather, Minneapolis, MN.

Through St. Paul Children’s Hospital, Eli now has his own website at <>. There you’ll find the latest news on how Eli is doing, and you can sign Eli’s guestbook and leave a message for the family.

More Fundraisers Coming Up

• Saturday, Nov. 19: Join the Black Guard of Minneapolis for their 29th annual Chili Feed. Beer bust, chili, silent auction, balloon bust, raffles, and the Black Guard’s famous jail. Black Frost 29 run applications will be available. Minneapolis Eagle, 5-9 P.M. $8 at the door.

• Early December: Join the Atons of Minneapolis for their annual Holiday Fundraiser. The Atons will again be collecting food for The Aliveness Project’s Holiday Basket Program, and a Silent Auction will benefit Open Arms of Minnesota. At this writing date, time and place are still being determined, so watch for further details.