Cooks for Christ raises money for Florence toddler

Pee Dee

Cooks for Christ sold chicken bog plates to raise funds for Ladson Hardesty’s medical bills and travel expenses on Thursday. The fundraiser was held at the West Florence Fire Station on Pine Needles Road in Florence.

News13 first introduced Ladson back in February. The two-year-old was born with Ebstein Anomaly and doctors told his parents he needed a heart transplant.

After more than two months at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic, Ladson’s parents said he’s on his way home and no longer needs the transplant.

“He’s still got a long way to go, but we’re more ahead of the game than we were a month ago,” said his mom, Nikki Milligan.

Ladson was on life-support at the Mayo Clinic, and doctors said he sufferred a stroke a month ago. After the stroke, he’s having difficulties moving his left side.

A week ago doctors reviewed Ladson’s tests and improvements and brought cheerful news to Nikki and James Hardesty, Ladson’s dad. Doctors told them his heart looked better, and he could go home to continue treatment in South Carolina.

The couple left their older son in Florence with his grandparents during Ladson’s treatments. With the doctor’s approval, they plan to be back in Florence on Saturday and told News13 what they are looking forward to the most. 

“Finally being back home together as a family,” Hardesty said. “Yes, because I haven’t seen Zander in over three months,” Milligan added.

Although they are coming home, Ladson will have weekly doctors appointments. He will also need one more heart surgery to fix a damaged heart valve but has about a year to heal until the surgery.

“This will at least give him time to heal and his heart time to heal and that left side to get stronger because that’s what kind of put us on life support this last time,” said Milligan. 

Cooks for Christ Founder Henry Brunson said helping families facing tough times is their main goal.

“This is what it’s all about. Helping someone else that needs help and with medical bills and health problems. When we get the community involved, we’re helping other people through our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.

Brunson started the organization in 1991 and has hosted fundraisers with the help of volunteers.

At Ladson’s fundraiser, there were about 250 to 300 volunteers. Plates were sold at $8 each and $35 a pan. Desserts were also sold at different prices.

People interested in following Ladson’s journey can join the Loving Ladson group on Facebook.

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