Monroe County makes young cancer patient’s cowboy dream come true

A stagecoach carrying Joe-Joe and his family makes its way down Rogers Street on Thursday as schoolchildren cheer him on. (Corey Saathoff photo)

Five-year-old Kansas City cancer patient Joe-Joe Charles is battlingĀ neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer.

On Thursday, Monroe County banded together as a community to partner with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in making little Joe-Joe’s dream to be a cowboy farmer come true.

A limo transported the Charles family from St. Louis to Monroe County, and organizers packed a full day of fun country activities to make Joe-Joe’s Special Day one to remember.

Activities included hanging out on a farm, taking a stagecoach ride down Rogers Street in Waterloo, and various cowboy themed events at the Monroe County Fairgrounds. Students lined Rogers Street dressed in in Joe-Joe’s favorite colors of purple and pink as the stagecoach carrying the family proceeded down the street.

“When (Joe-Joe’s parents) turned the corner from Hamacher on to Rogers, they both bursted into tears seeing all of our cheering students, signs and balloons,” Waterloo School District Wellness Coordinator Kelly Lerch said. “They were just amazed!” Ā 

At the fairgrounds, Joe-Joe was presented gifts including an FFA jacket, as well as an award for “Farmer of the Year.”

For the full story about how this event was pulled together, read the May 8 edition of the award-winning Republic-Times newspaper, covering Monroe County with the news that matters since 1890.

To view and purchase more photos from JoJo’s Big Day, click here.

Event coordinator Linda Mathews helps Joe-Joe during a pedal tractor pull event Thursday at the fairgrounds. (Andrea Degenhart photo) Joe-Joe participates in a horse show event as part of his big day at the fairgrounds. (Andrea Degenhart photo)


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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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