Indy Parkhurst

The Giving Hope Gala which is done in memory of Corbin Burnett who bravely battled brain cancer and Indy Parkhurst who is currently battling brain cancer will be held 6 p.m. Saturday at the Lamar State College-Orange student center. The evening will be one to remember while raising money for pediatric cancer through the The Cure Starts Now foundation.

Auction items for the event include a week stay at a condo in Orlando, Florida, theater tickets to the Lutcher Theater, a wine taster’s party basket, lunch for two for a year at the Old Orange Cafe, a Bling guitar, a custom pet bed, washer boards, various jewelry items, plus much more.

The rare form of brain cancer, diffuse pontine glioma, which is inoperable affects about 250 children per year. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for this deadly disease which is also the most resistant of all cancers to treatment.

DIPG affects the pons portion of the brainstem which renders the nervous system function impossible. Symptoms include double vision, inability to close the eyelids completely, dropping one side of the face, and difficulty chewing and swallowing. Unfortunately these symptoms usually worsen rapidly because the tumor is rapidly growing.

According to Cristy Burnett, Corbin’s mother, during his illness, the community reached out to her and her family and provided overwhelming support.

“The community took care of us,” she said. “That’s why I want to do this.”

Corbin was the first born of Cristy and Deon Burnett on August 22, 1991. Corbin was always a very happy little boy with a love of hunting with his father, baseball and the need for speed while riding his dirt bike.

In September of 2001 Corbin was diagnosed with the inoperable tumor in his brain stem. There was no cure and they were left with few options. Over the next ten and a half months, Corbin’s parents watched their smart, athletic, all-American boy succumb to an unbeatable disease which they had no control over. Corbin faced his illness and death with dignity and grace.

“He is truly the bravest person I know or will ever know,” Cristy Burnett said.” We are so proud to be his parents.”

Corbin died in August 2002 which would have been his first day of junior high school.

Indy Parkurst, 5. is still fighting for his life. He has always been an active boy. However, in 2011 his parents began to notice one of his eyes turning inward. After consulting with a specialist regarding their concerns, an MRI was performed in February 2011 and it was on this day the lives of Steve and Jennifer Parkhurst were changed forever.

Texas Children’s Hospital informed Indy’s parents of an aggressive tumor growing in his brain stem, which came with an average lifespan of only 3 months to 2 years after diagnosis.

Indy began 6 weeks of brainstem radiation and oral chemotherapy at MD Anderson Cancer Center in March 2011. He handled the daily trips like the champ he is and never let his morning radiation therapy slow him down. He would return home each day and enjoy a full day of being Indy, which included popping fireworks, riding four wheelers, swimming, trampolines and cheering on his favorite baseball team, the Little Cyress-Mauriceville Bears.

After completing six weeks of radiation and a four week break from all things medical, a follow up MRI revealed some reduction in tumor size.

Following the break, Indy’s parents faced some tough decision. They could return to MDACC for chemotherapy or have Indy participate in a vaccine trial at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Indy qualified and began the vaccine therapy trial in Pittsburgh which involved a flight there every three weeks for eight rounds, during which Indy received two vaccines and periodic MRI monitoring of the tumor. He then went every six weeks for the same vaccine and MRI until his 13th trip May 2012.

It was on this visit the doctor informed his parents, according to the trial’s protocol, Indy no longer qualified to continue as an active recipient of the vaccine since he had developed some slight worsening of symptoms as well as some changes on MRI which indicated probable tumor growth.

The doctor recommended Indy participate in another trial just beginning at MDACC which involved re-irradiation of growing brain tumors. This trial is intended to reduce symptoms and size of the tumor and in turn, will hopefully slow tumor progression. Indy began re-irradiation treatments in July and completed the series in August. Now they have to wait for the results.

“In the long run, I just hope to see a cure,” Cristy Burnett said.

The corporate sponsor for the gala, Lanxess Corporation, made a generous donation of $10,000. However, they would like to challenge other plants and businesses to do the same.

Those needing more information or wanting to donate can contact her at