Community rallies for Wilson family
Meet Lucas Wilson, one of the High Country's smallest residents.
"He's very strong for being so little," his mom, Kelly Wilson, said. "He likes to hold onto the bottle or help hold onto the bottle while he's eating. Sometimes he'll hold my hand."
And they're tiny hands.
"He has really cute smiles," she said. "He can recognize our voices when we come in, so it's really nice to see him smile at us."
It's a smile Wilson thought she might never get to see. Her son, due on Nov. 27, was born prematurely Sept. 21. The three-pound infant was rushed to Frye Regional Medical Center in Hickory before his parents even got to hold him for the first time.
Just more than two weeks ago, he was transported to Watauga Medical Center (WMC).
"We're still trying to work on his being able to breathe without needing oxygen," Wilson said. "But he's doing really well. He's had a couple of little setbacks."
The Wilson family is used to setbacks. Three years ago Sept. 22, Wilson's husband, Andy, suffered a stroke at age 30. After years of struggling to work a part-time job, he finally got approved for disability.
"It's been difficult," she said. "This isn't the situation we thought we would be in."
But the Hardin Park School teacher stays upbeat.
"God is taking care of our son," she said.
The transfer to WMC means she can hold Lucas. In the beginning, she was only able to hold him twice a day.
"He needed help regulating his body temperature," she said. "It was horrible, honestly. It was really hard. There was a disconnect between actually having a child, but not being able to do anything. We felt really helpless, but we knew he was being taken good care of and that God was in control of the situation."
And now, with the transfer to WMC, it's starting to pay off. The Wilsons are feeling more hopeful than ever that their new addition will get to come home soon. One thing, however, is standing in the way of that hope.
"We're kind of at a standstill, just waiting for hospital bills and other bills to come in," she said.
That's where the community tags itself into the situation.
"We just want to help," Greenway Baptist Church's Allison Hodges said.
Three years ago, Greenway Baptist rose to the occasion, raising $5,000 to help Andy with medical bills after his stroke. Friday, they plan to do it again, hosting a barbecue chicken dinner from 4 to 6 p.m.
"They owe $90,000 right now," Hodges said, "They need our help."
The Wilsons are speechless.
"We don't even go to their church, so it's just amazing, the support and the love that they have given us," she said. "We don't even know how to say thank you."
It's all part of what makes this community special, Hodges said.
"They live here," she said.
And this community knows how to look after its own.
One-hundred percent of the profits will go directly to the Wilsons for help with hospital bills and financial needs. Plates cost $10 and come with half a chicken, baked beans, slaw, bread, drink and dessert. Kids can get hot dog plates for $3. It all happens at Greenway Baptist Church, 880 Greenway Road on Friday, from 4 to 6 p.m.