PRAYERS FOR WATSON: Community rallies as toddler, family face ‘the hardest thing ever’

Published 9:58 pm Friday, July 28, 2023

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VIDALIA, La. — From birth to age 4, young Watson Calhoun’s life and health have been a roller coaster. From spending his first days in NICU having to have a blood transfusion to developing a brain tumor that he may never recover from.

After months of chemotherapy treatments, Watson’s family received the prognosis in May that he was “cancer free” but not out of the woods. Two months later, his mother, Melissa Calhoun, received the worst news yet. Watson’s survival rate has “dropped to none,” she shared in a social media post on Thursday.

He’d just received the results of an MRI that revealed the cancer had not only relapsed but was worse than before. It had spread throughout his brain and spinal cord and is now “incurable,” she shared

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At this point, the family isn’t sure how long Watson has left. Saturday, Aug. 5, he will be celebrating his fourth birthday in the hospital for a final round of chemo in order to slow the progression as much as possible.

The chemo starts Monday evening.

“Please keep all of us in your prayers as this will be the hardest thing we have ever had to endure,” Calhoun said.

Almost immediately after this news, the community that rallied behind Watson when he was first diagnosed in January by fundraising for his care and travel expenses jumped to offer the family comfort and support.

Concordia Parish Sheriff David Hedrick reached out to fellow law enforcement agencies throughout the region to help provide a special surprise party for Watson on Friday.

A motorcade consisting of officers from Adams County, Concordia, Rapides and Catahoula parishes drove to Watson’s house in Vidalia to pick him up and drive him to the Vidalia riverfront and then back to the sheriff’s office for Watson to become the department’s youngest person to ever be formally deputized.

“This is the greatest duty I will ever do as the sheriff of Concordia Parish,” Hedrick said. “The greatest thing I’ll ever get to do is making you one of my deputies and I’m so proud to have you as a deputy.”

His older brother Ryland, age 9, also received a badge and family members received CPSO caps.

There was also cake and a present waiting for Watson back at the sheriff’s office — “Can’t have a birthday without presents,” Hedrick said.

Friends of the Calhoun family are also organizing a community prayer vigil for Watson scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 31, at the Vidalia Amphitheater. The event page received over 250 responses within a day, with nearly 100 responders stating they would attend.

Some started changing their profile photos to a picture of the 4-year-old with the caption, “We love you, Watson.”

“I honestly don’t even know who all is responsible for putting this together, but thank you to everyone involved,” said Watson’s uncle, Ronnie Calhoun, in a post. “What an amazing community we live in! Watson’s diagnosis may not be great, but he has a family, a community and a God that love him. He isn’t in this battle alone.”