Shortly after 6 p.m. when the doors opened at the American Legion Post 34 in Rock Hill, Kenny Allen looked nervously past the wrestling ring – brightly lit in the middle of the otherwise dark room – to the door.
It was early and dozens of people had already arrived to see a night of thrashing all in his honor, but the Rock Hill 12-year-old hoped more would show.
“Not for the money and not for me,” he said. “Just for the experience.”
Kenny fidgeted with his hat which concealed hair starting to grow back and a healing wound where a dog attacked him in May. Kenny was on his way to a neighbor’s house when the dog broke loose of its tether and sunk its teeth into the back of his head, tearing away much of his scalp.
Kenny ran to his home on Ridgecrest Road, holding the back of his head as it gushed blood, and his father and neighbors helped apply pressure to the wound until the ambulance arrived. Kenny was airlifted to the hospital where he was in the intensive care unit and underwent surgeries.
By 7:30 p.m. Saturday the seats were starting to fill up for the wrestling event, a fundraiser for Kenny and his family who are facing mounting medical bills related to Kenny’s attack and other misfortunes that seemed to happen all at once.
Kenny’s hospital stay alone cost $76,000, and many of the bills haven’t arrived yet, said Kenny’s father, Kenny Allen.
Featuring Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton of the 1980s-popular Rock ‘N Roll Express – “the longest tag-team in history,” Gibson said – the event started when Jules Cagle of Rock Hill’s Extended Biker Family Sisters asked friend Chad Adams if he could get the duo’s autographs.
Adams came back and did her one better, bringing news that the wrestlers would come put on a show instead. Then a host of other wrestlers from the area wanted to get on board, and a full-fledged fundraiser to help the Allens resulted.
Sandy Boswell also of the Sisters was collecting admission money at the door. She said she even had people come in just to drop off a donation without staying for the wrestling.
“I had a lady drop me a $200 check” and walk out, she said. “That’s pretty nice.”
Not about the money
Things have been tough for the Allens who were cheerful and grateful Saturday.
Though Kenny said he’s starting to feel more “comfortable” at home, his mother Becki Allen says he’s been having trouble sleeping and won’t go for walks with her, preferring to stay near their home.
“Hopefully just with time and praying and talking with him that will get better,” she said.
Kenny hasn’t seen the last of hospital rooms either. He still faces reconstruction surgeries and hair implants. How many and for how long, the family still doesn’t know, she said.
The Allens also suffered other misfortunes around the same time as Kenny’s attack.
Just days earlier, his father had a heart attack, his grandmother had a heart attack and his mother’s new car was damaged. Later, their house was burglarized and Kenny’s grandmother passed away.
“It was like a mountain on top of me,” Kenny’s father said.
He turned to God for guidance and says the family will make it through. The outpouring of support has been a blessing, they said.
Becki Allen said what has helped them through isn’t “about the money or the benefits.”
It’s been the people in the grocery store who recognize Kenny and pray over him, and the people at work who always ask about him.
The big rumble at the American Legion was just one of several fundraising events planned for the family. Members of the Allens’ church, Faith Family Christian Center, have helped out by hosting a carnival, barbecue and some even shaved their heads in solidarity with Kenny.
Looking out at the crowd forming, Kenny’s father said, “I can’t begin to tell you how much it touches my heart.”
Jamie Self 803-329-4062