HALLOWEEN IS Leland Blessing’s favorite holiday, when all his friends can get into the costumes of their favorite heroes and villains. They get to visit with friends and go knock on doors for candy from their Bedford County neighbors. Leland, who is six and will turn seven years old on December 1, has scoliosis. The Mayo Clinic reports scoliosis as “a sideways curvature of the spine that most often is diagnosed in adolescents.” This year, Leland had a scheduled surgery to remove part of his ribs and infuse it with his spine, along with 12 screws and three rods on October 18, 2021. That means this year, Leland would not get to go trick-or- treating on his favorite holiday. He would still be in recovery from the surgery.
Sherry Nowlin, Leland’s great- grandmother, heard him say something negative about Halloween. Sherry knew that Leland’s favorite holiday was Halloween—so the remark was out of character for him. She knew that this year would be different for Leland…he wouldn’t be trick-or-treating with his friends. After a conversation with her daughter Shannon Infante, Sherry and Shannon had an idea. They would throw a surprise Halloween party for Leland. Even though he will be recovering on Halloween, he will get to celebrate Halloween with his friends. The family got to work.
On October 9, 2021, nine days before his survey, Leland’s mom, Shay Maupin, told him they needed to go to Granny Sherry’s house. He asked why, wondering why they had to make the spur-of-the-moment trip. With a shrug of his shoulders, he climbed into the car and rode to Granny Sherry’s house. To his surprise, there were 25 to 30 people waiting for him. Family-friends, a classmate, cousins, and other family members were already in their Halloween costumes.
Nine days later, Leland went into surgery. His mother, Shay, was anxious about the surgery. “When your baby hurts, you hurt,” she said. But Leland’s surgery went well. He is recovering now and can return to school in late November. After fully healing and recovering, he can get back to playing baseball. And better yet, he’ll be able to trick-or-treat on Halloween year after year.
For Leland’s mom Shay, seeing the love and support for her son made all the difference. “Seeing friends and family coming out to support Leland was very fulfilling,” Shay said. “The reminder that he is very loved and was being prayed for was everything he needed.” -GN