A small act of kindness went a long way in the heart of one Harrisonville 4-year-old with cancer this Christmas.
When Harrisonville High School cheerleading captain Lena Quinlin, 18, learned of the young girl’s wish this year, she knew she had to do something.
Quinlin, a senior at the high school, first met Jordan Zenor, 4, in September.
“The first time that I met Jordan was on Homecoming when we had the parade and all the cheerleaders rode on the fire truck,” Quinlin said. “Jordan was actually with the man who was driving the fire truck.”
Before the parade started, the man asked the girls to take a picture because he knew Jordan, who has suffered from the effects of a brain tumor for the past two years, loved cheerleaders.
“He hands this girl to me and she sat on my lap,” Quinlin said. “After taking the pictures, I fell apart and just started crying.”
Coincidently, Quinlin saw Jordan again later the same day at the license bureau, and the girls began to form a special relationship after learning that their both of their third grade brothers were on the same football team. Quinlin began making it a point to attend as many of her brother’s football games as possible so she could spend more time with Jordan. “That’s where we really got to get close and I got to learn her personality more,” she said.
It wasn’t much later that Quinlin also learned of Jordan’s special, yet unusual, wish.
Jordan wanted to ride a big, yellow bus, just like the one her brother, Kenneth, rides to and from school.
“There was one day that she had a doctor’s appointment and her brother needed somewhere to go after school, so my mom volunteered for him to come over to our house,” Quinlin said.
“They had mentioned that he would ride the bus home with Collin, and Jordan speaks up and said, ‘I want to ride the bus.’”
Several more times, Jordan shared that she desperately wanted to ride a bus.
Jordan was diagnosed with the cancer Feb. 2, 2010, and also has developed epilepsy in recent months.
No matter how unusual the request might have been, Quinlin decided she really wanted to make Christmas a little more special for a girl that might not ever have the chance to do something many children take for granted.
Quinlin worked with her mother to plan a big surprise just before Christmas Dec. 22.
Quinlin arranged for a Durham Bus Company bus to take Jordan, the girl’s family, and the rest of the Harrisonville cheerleading squad, to go on a bus ride to Christmas in the Park in Lee’s Summit. Even bus driver Megan Rhodes volunteered her time for the evening to drive the bus.
With help from Jordan’s grandmother in keeping the surprise a secret, the young girl and her family was brought to Harrisonville’s Early Childhood Center Saturday night where the cheerleaders awaited.
When the family arrived, the cheerleaders shared what was in store for the evening.
“Despite everything she’s been through at such a young age, she’s so strong and always happy, and there isn’t a single day that I haven’t seen her running around with a huge smile on her face despite her circumstances and that just touches my heart,” Quinlin said. “I just want tonight to touch her life in the way that she’s touched mine.”
The cheerleaders made signs to welcome little Jordan aboard the bus filled with balloons, and formed a tunnel with their pom poms as she climbed on.
The ride was filled with giggles and cheer for Jordan, who said her favorite light display was the one of a big fat Santa with a big ’ol bag of toys. Taking turns in sitting with Jordan, the cheerleaders also sang Christmas carols on the bus ride through the park.
After looking at the Christmas lights, the festivities continued with an ice cream party at Dairy Queen in Harrisonville, where Jordan opened gifts from the cheerleaders. Jordan and her family were also given gifts from a Bright Futures donor.
“It was overwhelming,” said her mother, Misty Overcast. “I had to wrap my brain around this, but it was nice. She looks up to these girls.”
Overcast said the last several years have been rocky road for her family.
After Jordan was diagnosed with the cancer when she was 2 years old, doctors predicticted she wouldn’t make it past her third birthday.
Jordan will turn 5 in March.
“She’s a walking angel,” Overcast said.