Catawba teen with cancer whose donation jar was stolen gets limo ride to Justin Bieber concert

Herald columnistJanuary 22, 2013 

— Monday was chemo. Monday was sick, tired. Monday was cancer.

Monday stunk.

But not Tuesday. After 88 days of waiting, Tuesday was B-Day for 14-year-old Emily Elkins – B as in Bieber.

Fighting cancer and dealing with a thief who stole one of her donation jars, Emily Elkins, who never knew if she would make it to Tuesday, went to the Justin Bieber concert.

“In a limo!” squealed Emily, who sure would have screamed, but she was saving the screams for the show.

She had time, though, to call her best friends, who at the exact same time the limousine as long as a child’s dreams left Emily’s home in Catawba south of Rock Hill – 3:46 p.m. – were headed home from the ninth grade on a school bus.

“Y’all are in a Twinkie, and I’m in a limo!” Emily laughed into the phone, her legs propped up on a leather sofa seat. The roof was like stars.

A Twinkie, in teen-speak, is a school bus. Emily made sure the adults knew that.

“This is the greatest,” Emily said, from her cave inside the limo.

Inside the limo were radios and champagne glasses that shone, and one 14-year-old girl who was maybe the happiest person in the world at that moment.

Emily Elkins on Tuesday had no peer. Anywhere. She was in a limo used by Cam Newton, and she was the star.

After The Herald’s coverage of the theft of a jar collecting donations for Emily’s family at a convenience store in July, and the attempted theft of another jar on New Year’s Day, donations poured in from around the country.

The donation for the limousine came after Emily said in the paper that she had been waiting, since tickets were procured by her hospital nurses, to see Bieber.

The limousine was an anonymous donation from some great person who just wanted a kid who sure deserves a great day to have a great day.

“I am honored to be your driver,” said Lloyd Williams, the driver from Peak limo service. “Steal from a kid with cancer? That is just wrong.”

Williams – who has carted big shots of entertainment, sports and business – said nobody matches Emily Elkins.

A hoped-for visit with Bieber before the show didn’t pan out at the last hour – scheduling was the culprit, said Annie Brakefield, Emily’s mom – but Emily refused to let her spirits be dampened.

“I am in a limo!” she said.

Dr. Wenonah Haire, a Rock Hill dentist and historic preservation officer for the Catawba Indian Nation, even donated an official Justin Bieber autographed picture and T-shirt to Emily at the last moment – a prize that Haire’s husband won in a contest.

“My husband must have forgotten our daughters are all grown up,” laughed Haire about why her hubby entered such a contest. “But when I read all about this little girl and what she has gone through, I just wanted her to have these things, and have a great time at the show.”

Just last week, the man accused of stealing the donation jar in July was arrested after he spent months on the run.

Johnny Ray Kendricks, 50, a career criminal with prison sentences under his belt and convictions dating back three decades, remains in the York County jail under $120,000 bond after his arrest last week on a petty larceny charge over the stolen donation jar, plus other charges of violating state lottery laws, shoplifting and resisting police.

But nobody in that limo mentioned Johnny Ray Kendricks.

Any day not filled with chemotherapy and radiation and poison is a great day. Seeing Justin Bieber is “the greatest,” Emily said.

“This is her night,” said mom Annie, who was lucky enough to go with her daughter.

Emily wore a hat to cover her head because her hair has fallen out from the treatments. She had to take special anti-nausea medicine. But Emily crossed her legs, told the driver that she was ready, and got ready to head off to the concert of a lifetime.

No star ever looked more beautiful.

She had one last word to say as the door closed: “Wow!”

Andrew Dys 803-329-4065adys@heraldonline.com

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