Family

Camillia Mickens, right, and Demarcus Duirden pose with 6-year-old Michael Duirden. Michael was recently diagnosed with childhood lymphoma, and a Zumba Dance and Donate fundraiser will be held for him from 10-11:30 a.m. today at the Dunbar Primary School Cafetorium.

A Dance & Donate fundraiser will be held for 6-year-old Michael Duirden from 10-11:30 a.m. today at the Dunbar Primary School Cafetorium.

Michael was recently diagnosed with childhood lymphoma, which causes symptoms of painless swelling or enlargement of lymph nodes, excessive night sweats and unexplained fever and weakens a child’s immune system.

Camillia Mickens, Michael’s mom, said he was diagnosed on Sept. 15 after she noticed his lymph nodes in his neck were poking out and antibiotics failed to help.

“It’s been real tough for us,” Mickens said. “He’s reacting good to the chemo treatments, but I see the physical change he’s going through. He looks a lot different, and he’s always tired. He was always an active child, and he’s not really that active anymore.”

The cancer Michael has is curable, but he will need to continue chemotherapy for two years in order to assure that the cancer stays gone.

Garrett Primary School pre-K4 teacher Jenny Caldera organized the fundraiser because she taught Michael when he went to Garrett two years ago.

“Michael is the happiest child,” she said. “Still two years later, he is the child who has danced more than any other child I have ever had. He talked about Michael Jackson all the time and did all his dances.”

The fundraiser is a one-and-a-half-hour Zumbathon. Caldera is a Zumba instructor at Changing Lives Dance Center, and she thought, why not use her skills to do something to benefit Michael?

“I wish I could do a lot more, but with having the two jobs I have, the one way I knew to help was Zumba,” she said.

Some people are coming for the exercise and joy of dancing, and some are coming specifically to support Michael.

“It kind of brings the best of both worlds together, which is wonderful,” Caldera said. “We want to raise money for Michael and his family because he spends a lot of time in Houston getting treatments, and this will help them be able to take off work and still be able to pay rent.”

Mickens said she is overwhelmed by all the people who have reached out to her, even people she doesn’t even know.

“It’s great to see how many people love my baby,” Mickens said. “He’s had a huge impact on all the schools he’s been at, and he’s only 6.”

Admission is $10 and can be paid at the door with cash or card. For those who will not be able to make it to the fundraiser but still want to support Michael, find the Dance and Donate for Michael Duirden Facebook page or follow this link https://bit.ly/2Nst8jt.

Grace Juarez’s email address is grace.juarez@lufkindailynews.com.