The Memory of One Child Lives On
Cabot Arkansas Jr. High School is a campus locally recognized for its many accomplishments. Principal Henry Hawkins is proud of his school, his students and the community that them. He is also moved by this same group of caring Arkansans for the support of his family in the loss of their son Dakota. Dakota was an honors student, an active member of his church and an avid hunter. In 2006 at the age of 15 he lost his courageous four year battle with leukemia. An entire community experienced a sense of loss. Cabot is a city that prides itself on being a family. Many residents were very involved with Dakota’s need for blood and platelets. Several successful blood drives were hosted in his honor including one with over 100 donors. After his 2002 diagnosis he underwent a long course of chemotherapy at Arkansas Children’s Hospital followed by a bone marrow transplant from brother, Riley. Eventually the cancer returned and Dakota was treated at M.D. Anderson and underwent experimental treatment at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Dakota died March 3, 2006 but rather than an ending, this date proved to be the beginning of a new journey for the Hawkins family. Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins were recognized with the Courage Award and were selected as Arkansas Parents of the Year. They have also become adoptive parents. The Hawkins participated in the launch of a charitable effort called Seeds of Faith which provides packets of wildflower seeds to caring people to plant and grow something beautiful in honor of Dakota and two other local children who lost their lives to cancer.
Fast forward to 2010 and a new idea developed at the school. School staff, students and others again honored Dakota with the first annual Dakota Hawkins Blood Drive. Mr. Hawkins said a blood drive is an appropriate memorial given the amount of blood and platelets used by his son. Hawkins said, “ we benefited many many times from blood products donated for Dakota and this is the best way we can give back.” Fifty-one units were collected at this first drive. One donor offered that his daughter, a Cabot student, encouraged him to give. In response to her call to action, Sheriff’s Deputy Ritchey not only came to the drive but donated a double red cell for the first time.
Brooke Davis, DRD Representative said,”It was such an honor to work with this incredible group of people. They understand the constant need for blood. The faculty and students at Cabot Junior High are very determined to continue this mission for Dakota. It was an awesome blood drive and I can’t wait for the next one.” This sentiment is shared by Mr. Hawkins. With his support this very successful drive is scheduled to tentatively take place again in February 2011 and annually thereafter. There is a commitment for it to grow much as the flowers being planted by his friends today.