November 9, 2021

Seven-Year-Old Raises Thousands To Give Back To The Hospital That Saved His Life

Nicole McCardle

Back Row Left to Right: Dr. Patrick Wright, Kaylee Anderson, Nathan Anderson, Jocie Beckham, Cindy Strickland, Amy Kirk, Raymond Kirk, Dr. Mary Taylor / Front Row Left to Right: Ad Martin, Bentley Strickland, Lynlee Martin

Strength, courage, and compassion are traits that a lot of people aspire to have. And Bentley Strickland, a seven-year-old from Union, has already displayed those traits in an impactful way. He beat the odds of his genetic disorder, only to turn around and give back to the hospital that saved his life.

Bentley was diagnosed with Hurler Syndrome in 2015 at the young age of one year old. He has since been receiving treatment form Children’s of Mississippi – which is the state’s only children’s hospital plus pediatric clinic.

Hurler Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder where a person is lacking an enzyme that the body needs to digest sugar molecules. A bone marrow transplant, however, can enable the body to produce the enzyme.

Since his diagnosis, he has undergone a bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy, thirteen bone surgeries, and had had to learn to walk again.

“[Children’s] is our second home”, said Cindy, Bentley’s mother. “If you’ve ever been here – you know. If you haven’t – you don’t know. . .And you never know if you’re going to be here.”

Bentley’s family hosts a large annual trail ride to raise money for Children’s of Mississippi called Believing in Bentley. The 2021 trail ride was an unbelievable success.

This year, they raised a whopping $88,000!

“My goal was $75,000, and we topped it,” Cindy said. “It’s just incredible.”

Bentley and his horse, Tweeter

About 40 wagons and 400 riders participated in this year’s trail ride. People come in on Friday night and stay all weekend. The family cooks and provides meals for them, and entertainment includes an auction and a live band.

Bentley’s favorite part of the event is riding his horse, Tweeter. He was cleared to ride just in time for this year’s trail ride and was able to participate on horseback with other riders.

The Strickland family has made many friends over the years. And this year, another family who also spends a lot of time at Children’s hospital reached out to them. Their daughter, Lynlee, had a brain tumor. She has undergone three brain surgeries at Children’s, and is one tough little girl.

The two families spent the trail ride together, and both participated in helping with the fundraiser.

Last years trail ride donation was put towards getting a clinic room at the new hopstial, which was named in honor of Bentley.

This year, they are honoring Lynlee.

“Lynlee has been through so much, and she deserves to be noticed!”, Cindy stated on the trail ride event page. Go follow the page, Believing in Bentley, to get updates for next years trail ride!

You can also be a part of making a change at Children’s of Mississippi.

To schedule a donation, you can call (601)213-8054, or send them an email at inkinddonations@umc.edu.

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