With the exception of a bunch of rugged mechanics and body shop workers dressed in bright purple and pink and women wearing angel wings, feathered headbands and glitter glasses, Thursday morning started with business as usual at Trotter Ford in Pine Bluff.
President Ford Trotter, Chairman of the Board Henry Trotter and employees at the automobile dealership traded in their business attire and company work shirts for a new dress code for the day in support of 11-year-old Abby Bobo.
Abby, who celebrated her birthday this month, was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rare disease that attacks the kidney’s filtering system.
The granddaughter of Walter Coleman (Gramps) and Wayne (Poppie) and Kim Anderson, longtime employees of Trotter Ford, Abby underwent a bilateral nephrectomy—surgery to remove both her kidneys — Thursday morning at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. Abby is the daughter of Willie Bobo and Russ and Rachel Bartels.
According to the Nephcure Foundation, FSGS is one of the causes of a serious condition known as Nephrotic Syndrome, the second-leading cause of kidney failure in children. After surgery, Abby who has already been doing dialysis at home, will be placed on a waiting list to receive a healthy kidney.
“This little girl has been through a lot,” Henry Trotter said. “Everyone wants this family to know we’re here to show our support.”
Ford Trotter stood nearby, wearing a shiny purple wig and nodding in agreement. Pausing their business meeting to join the staff for a quick surprise photo to send to Abby’s family, both men apologized for not being able to chat longer.
Della Stark, the company’s administrative assistant, started working on a company-wide surprise for the family after hearing the grandmother’s plan to get T-shirts made.
“Kim wanted to get shirts for the immediate family to wear on the day of the surgery,” Stark said.
Stark said she wanted to do something to show support, and believed others would want to join in.
“It’s just the way things are around here. We look out for each other,” she said.
Fully expecting participation, Stark still wondered if she might have to use some persuasion to get some on board.
“They all have big hearts, but we were doing the shirts in Abby’s favorite colors,” she said. “I didn’t know how purple and pink would go over with the men…but it did!”
Stark said not one person complained.
Assistant Finance Manager Monica Armstrong, straightening her pink headband, said her co-workers are like no others.
“We all go home to our families at night, but this is my day family,” she said. “We are tight-knit … Yes, we butt heads sometimes, but at the end of the day … we are a team.”
A team player willing to make a personal sacrifice, Armstrong said she gave up smoking cigarettes when she learned of Abby’s situation.
“Just in case I might be the same blood type,” she said.
Armstrong, who works directly with Wayne Anderson said he and Kim, both known for their generosity, are more than worthy of such an outpouring of support.
Wayne is “one of the most genuine people I know,” Armstrong said.
Bubba Pettigrew couldn’t agree more
“They (Wayne and Kim) started here not long after me,” said the 25-year-veteran of the company.
Pettigrew said the couple came to his aide when his mother died
“It’s like they just knew exactly what I needed,” he said.
Pettigrew sat back in his seat and smiled. “Now it’s time for us to take care of them.”
Pettigrew said this situation has touched him deeply. He vowed the show of support won’t end with wearing T-shirts for the day.
“She (Abby) has her extended family to go through this with her,” Pettigrew said. “She’ll never go through this alone.”
Stark’s plan had spread like wildfire. Her hopes of doing something to represent collaborative support for Abby and her immediate family from their “day family” was a success.
And so was Abby’s surgery. Just as everyone made their way back to their respective posts, one employee got a message from the family at the hospital.
Abby was doing just fine.
More information about FSGS is available at http://www.nephcure.org