Before Chemo Duck was a duck he was a rabbit!

When Taegan Strain was diagnosed in 2002, the enterprise known as Gabe’s My Heart was not yet organized. There were not hundreds of cute chemo ducks available for children diagnosed with cancer.

At the time, there was only one Chemo Duck and it belonged to Gabe Sipos.

“Taegan and Gabe and another patient would all play together during clinic,” said Tammy Strain, Taegan’s mom. “She saw Gabe’s duck and she wanted one.

“Well Lu made her a little bunny that was all girly,” said Strain. “She put a straw hat on it and gave it a feeding tube. And Taegan played with it all the time. Every time she would have something done, she would doctor on her bunny.

“She used bunny to show her to friends and to explain to them what was happening with her.”

Strain said her daughter never named her bunny, but cherishes it and has put it up for safe keeping.

A year ago she received a Chemo Duck and has used it to help raise money for Gabe’s My Heart. This summer, during a mission trip to New York, Taegan met a family with a 6-year-old who had been diagnosed with the same form of cancer as Taegan. She got their contact information so that he too could enjoy his very own Chemo Duck.

“During that time she was in treatment, she felt like everything was out of control,” said Strain. “I think it helped her work through what was going on with her. Having this animal, it was a way she could gain back some control. When kids are sick like that, everyone gives stuffed animals.”

“But none of them look like they do. Chemo Duck is like them and it’s a comfort to have a stuffed animal going through the same illness.”

Taegan was 3 years old when she was diagnosed with ALL. She is now a 7th grader at Franklin Simpson Middle School in Franklin, Kentucky.

Classic Car Show Revs Up Donation for Chemo Duck

Every year, the members of the Lawrenceburg County Classic Car Club hold a car show. And each year, a charity benefits from the proceeds.

Chemo Duck was one of the lucky groups thanks to Vern Green, vice president of the club. When it came time to talk about what charity would be the recipient of the car show’s profits, Green packed up a couple of ducks, gathered some literature and hauled them to a club meeting. 

He was interested in sharing what he had learned about Chemo Duck. His daughter, Jennifer, worked at the Monroe Carell Jr Children’s Hospital where Gabe Sipos received his cancer treatments. After learning the story behind Chemo Duck and how the program helped children fighting cancer, he wanted to see if his club could help.

“It was really an eye opener for our organization,” said Green. “The majority of the folks in the club had never heard of Chemo Duck. They were happy to hear about the program and how it helped the kids cope.”

The annual car show, now in its 34th year, attracted 100 entries of classic and collectible cars, trucks and motorcycles.

He asked representatives of Chemo Duck to set up a table during the show to help educate the car aficionados about the purpose of the stuffed animals. The club donated $2000.

“We did pretty good,” said Green. “With what we donated, the folks with Chemo Duck said they will be able to buy and send out a few ducks and then some.

“It was nice to help a local charity that helps kids from all around the country.”