Thomasville church hosts benefit for family of teenager
New Heart Baptist Church this weekend will host “Jacob’s Journey,” a benefit spaghetti supper for teenage church member Jacob Coker.
The event will be held Saturday, from 5 to 8:30, at the church, which is located at 605 Carolina Ave. in Thomasville.
The menu will include spaghetti with homemade sauce, two vegetables, garlic bread, beverage and dessert. Take-outs and even drive-through service will be available, with the youth of the church taking orders at the drive-through.
The cost is a minimum donation of $5 per plate or $10 per family, and all proceeds will go to Jacob’s family to assist with medical costs and other related expenses.
Jacob, who is the son of New Heart Baptist’s pastor, Kenny Coker, has battled ulcerative colitis — an inflammatory bowel disease — since he was 5. In August, he underwent surgery at Duke University Medical Center in Durham to have his colon removed.
“He elected to have his colon removed, because his chances of having colon cancer later in life were greater than for the average person,” explained Jacob’s mother, Nikki.
The surgery also allows Jacob to avoid taking medications for which the longterm effects are not known, she added.
Unfortunately, the surgery did not go as planned, Jacob’s mother continued. Though the procedure was supposed to have been performed laparoscopically, complications forced the surgeon to resort to the old-fashioned, more invasive type of operation, she said, and what was supposed to have been a two- to three-day hospitalization turned into a month.
The surgery also included an ileostomy, which the family hopes will be able to reversed during an operation in February, once Jacob has healed. If that happens, he will no longer be required to use an ileostomy bag.
In the meantime, Jacob must stay hydrated — “He has to have a drink in his hand 24/7,” his mother said — and he can only drink Gatorade G2 and PowerAde Zero, because they’re low-sugar and won’t cause the bag to overflow. If he drinks water, he has to eat something salty, too.
The Coker family’s only income comes from Kenny’s small salary at the church, which is a small, relatively new church plant, plus meager payment he receives for serving as a trainer for the Thomasville High School football team, Nikki said.
Jacob is a homebound sophomore at Thomasville High, while his younger siblings — 13-year-old Caleb and 8-year-old Hannah — are home-schooled.
“They’re a great family, and we just want to do whatever we can to help this family,” said benefit organizer Otis Rhudy. “They’re very deserving, and they need our help.”
For more information, including directions to the church, call (336) 247-3302.