Last updated: May 13. 2014 11:53AM - 1617 Views
Richard Chase
Special to the Durant Democrat

The Baldwin family facing a big challenge after their son Tristen was diagnosed with Leukemia. Billy and Rhonda are shown with Tristen at a recent fundraising event.
The Baldwin family facing a big challenge after their son Tristen was diagnosed with Leukemia. Billy and Rhonda are shown with Tristen at a recent fundraising event.
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When a situation that seemed like a normal tummy ache for a 5-year-old boy turned out to be a potentially deadly disease, the world of the Baldwin Family was turned upside down. Billy and Rhonda Baldwin were devastated when three months ago they took their son Tristen to the doctor for a tummy ache.
After running tests, they were informed little Tristen had leukemia and treatment needed to be started very soon. They took their son to Oklahoma University Medical Center where they began chemotherapy. Their battle to save their son’s life had begun and soon, they were joined by a stream of friends and family.
Rhonda works at First Texoma National Bank and Billy at the Durant School System, and both have been given the time they need to deal with their son’s sickness. With mounting expenses for the family to travel to the medical center in Oklahoma City for the treatment, the community responded with numerous fundraising events and even more are being planned.
Events began to spring up quickly beginning with a special day at Washington Irving School where Tristen attends kindergarten. A super-hero day was held in honor of Tristen and students were allowed to dress as a super hero on that day. Tristen’s, aunt Amanda, set up a Facebook page to keep supporters up to date on his condition and they have received hundreds of messages of support from as far away as Ireland.
Amanda has set up an account at FTNB and named it Team Tristen to begin accepting donations to help the family with mounting expenses. Individuals and businesses have joined in the effort to help this family, including the Red Barn Saloon where a dinner and silent auction was held with the band Wasetta Switch providing live entertainment.
“Durant is an amazing community of kind and giving people,” said Vickie Baldwin, Tristen’s grandmother. “We as a family will be forever grateful for the kindness and support we have had and continue to have from the community.”
Billy and Rhonda have four other children including 4-year-old twin girls Adysin and Dani. An older sister, Maison has been a strong support system for Tristen. Rhonda said the younger twins know their brother is sick but do not comprehend the seriousness of his illness.
The next event planned will be Thursday at Chili’s Restaurant where a portion of profits from that day will go to help the family. Other events are being planned and will be announced as they develop.
Tristen attended the event at the Red Barn, but soon became so tired the family had to take him home. He still has seven months of chemo treatment and at the present time, his disease is in remission, but they know that can be reversed. In the meantime, they hold on to the hope Tristen will survive this dread disease and become a stronger person.

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