Haleigh Beth Moore, left, with Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper, right, who drew the winning raffle ticket for “Haleigh’s Blessing Basket” Friday evening. / Nick Griffin
CULLMAN – The holiday season is one of blessings, and those milling about the Busy Bee Café early Friday evening in anticipation of the Christmas parade got to see one in action. That’s when a small crowd gathered for a purpose: to raffle off a prize, yes, but it was the reason for that prize that spoke to so many.
The prize being raffled was “Haleigh’s Blessing Basket,” and it was filled with just shy of $1,700 worth of goodies donated by area citizens and businesses. The goal? To raise money for a local woman battling cancer: Haleigh Beth Moore.
Haleigh was born with neurofibromatosis, or NF1, a genetic disorder that causes tumors, usually benign, to form on nerve tissue. Haleigh’s mom, Wendy Taylor, said the disorder causes Haleigh’s body to grow tumors frequently, but they had not been cancerous until a few months ago, when Haleigh developed a stage 3 malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor in her leg shortly before her October wedding. Haleigh had surgery to remove the tumor and is undergoing follow-up treatments including chemotherapy.
Haleigh, a student who also works full-time in addition to helping care for her husband, Hunter, who has cerebral palsy, has not been able to work during her treatments, and began to see mounting medical and household bills. That’s when her friends and family came up with the idea for the blessing basket.
The group sold raffle tickets for $1 each, or six for $5, and many generous businesses and citizens donated items to go in the basket. In the end, the group sold just more than $3,000 worth of tickets. That money will go directly toward Haleigh’s treatment.
“We’ve been selling the tickets for about three weeks now, so I’ve been really excited for a while to see how it’s going to turn out,” Haleigh said. “We raised a little bit over $3,000 so that was really cool.”
Haleigh couldn’t believe how much was donated, or how many tickets were sold for the drawing, saying it meant a lot to her to know people were thinking about her and praying for her.
“I was absolutely surprised. I was expecting to get maybe a few donations and going and buying a couple things and I was not expecting the total value of the basket to go up to $1,677,” she smiled. “I just feel extremely blessed to have everybody who donated or has helped me and put in for me that don’t even know me.”
Haleigh’s mom expressed her gratitude to those who gave to help her daughter.
"I can't express deeply enough how much it has meant to me (to see) the support our community has shown Haleigh,” said Taylor. “It's so hard seeing your beautiful daughter go through cancer, but to know that her financial load will be somewhat lightened is a true gift. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”
One of the special highlights of Friday’s drawing was the person who graciously accepted the invitation to do the honors: Cullman City Police Chief Kenny Culpepper.
And who was the lucky winner?
Culpepper drew a ticket belonging to Ralph Gilbreath. Gilbreath’s basketful of prizes included restaurant gift cards, clothes, jewelry, tools, rounds of golf and more.
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