Leader Blues

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

NEIGHBORS>> Dakota returns from Jerusalem

IN SHORT: Cancer patient is hailed along homecoming route to Cabot

Leader staff writer

Being back home in Cabot is sweeter than ever for the Hawkins family.

They returned Thursday, May 26, from living in Jerusalem for three months for their oldest son Dakota, 14, to undergo leukemia treatment at Hadassah Medical Center. After receiving a cell transplant from his mother, Sharon, and brother, Riley, 12, Dakota is now leukemia-free.

An enthusiastic crowd of friends and relatives gathered at the Little Rock National Airport to welcome the family home. Gasps of surprise erupted from the Hawkins family as they saw the crowd awaiting them in the terminal. Other passengers walking through the terminal glanced at the large group as they hugged and wept.

“We go to church with the Hawkinses at Mt. Carmel and it’s nice to have them back,” said Maghan Slater, holding a “Welcome Home Dakota” sign.

A large group of faculty from Cabot Junior High School North was on hand as well with “CJHS loves the Hawkins family” signs. Dakota’s father, Henry, is an assistant principal at the school.

“It’s so wonderful just to see them again, they all look so good,” said Penny Hawkins, Dakota’s aunt.

When they drove into Cabot, the Hawkins family was given a police escort to their home, and crowds lined up along Hwy. 321 to welcome the motorcade.

“Thanks to all of you who greeted us at the airport and those who made signs and lined up on Hwy. 321 and our road as we came home,” wrote Sharon in the family’s online journal http://www2.caringbridge.org/ar/keepthefaith. “Dakota was so overjoyed at your support. Thank you, Cabot, for all the welcome home signs around town.”

She said the entire family was overwhelmed at the displays of love and support.

“Most of all, thanks to each of you for the prayers of faith, restored health and praying us home,” she wrote.

Dakota is recovering from his treatment and a lung infection. His improvement will be closely monitored during twice weekly clinic visits.

Mindful of Dakota’s recovery, the family is resting and enjoying their return to Cabot.

They spent the weekend visiting with family and friends and eating plenty of American food.