Editorial: Welcome back to your home, Regen Morris — among your family, friends

Apr. 16, 2013 @ 11:03 PM

This is a caring, giving community. Residents know that to be true. Concerned people operate a food bank, rescue ministry and other agencies that assist those in need. And sometimes, a real special case touches the hearts of Sevier County like few can.

A year ago Regen Morris was  happy elementary school student in Gatlinburg who excelled in sports and was popular with classmates. Then came a devastating illness. The youngster was diagnosed with agressive brain tumors last November, and almost every day since he has been hospitalized. Since early January he was in St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, accompanied by his mother, and together they fought the disease, prayed a lot and, without asking, became a community rallying point.

“Rootin’ for Regen” became the battle cry, as businesses, organizations and school kids held fundraisers to raise money to assist the family. A Facebook page attracted thousands of fans. Signs with Regen’s photo and the slogan hung in windows all over this county. This child became the village’s child.

Regen Morris came home on Friday, and hundreds turned out along Dolly Parton Parkway to welcome him. Riding in a Sevier County ambulance, he and accompanying family members saw green balloons, green signs and young and old alike in spots all along the road from downtown to Clint’s restaurant. It was a remarkable show of community support for a child most of those on the roadway didn’t know personally. No matter. A child in this community was hurting, and that was incentive enough to help out.

Regen faces an uncertain future, of course. But the power of prayer has been on display. His tumors have shrunk, and the family attributes that to all the prayers generated by this one little boy’s illness.

Everybody should continue to root for Regen. Don’t stop now. He will continue to get chemo treatments both at home administered by his mother and in a Knoxville hospital. He will return to St. Jude in about seven weeks. But for now, he is back home surrounded by all family members. That’s a good thing.