A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY – Sanderson Farms Training Manager Earns Golden Rooster Volunteer Status from Sanderson Farms Championship

by Ashley Rea, Manager of Communication

As a parent, the last thing you want to hear your child’s doctor say is that your baby might have a serious medical condition and you need to have tests run at the hospital. For Sanderson Farms training manager, Stacey Clark, that parent’s nightmare very much became a reality for him and his wife, Roseann. Their son, Jude, was only six months old at the time, and even the mere thought that something could be seriously wrong with his health was terrifying for the Clark family.

“Our primary pediatrician noticed our son’s head was continuously getting bigger and bigger,” said Clark. “He sent us to our local hospital to get an ultrasound, and the results revealed that Jude had swollen ventricles in his brain caused by excessive cerebrospinal fluid, which is referred to as hydrocephalus.”

Doctors at their local hospital in Hattiesburg, Mississippi referred Jude to a pediatric neurologist at Batson Children’s Hospital for further examination. While the family waited for an appointment with the specialist, the unknown health implications for young Jude weighed heavily on his parents. “I cried every day,” said Clark, “as a terrified parent, I saw every sign of hydrocephalus when I looked at my son.”

Thankfully, the doctors at Batson Children’s Hospital saw something very different. Jude’s pediatric neurologist ordered an MRI and determined that he had arachnoid cysts, not hydrocephalus as his parents and local doctors feared. Arachnoid cysts are cerebrospinal fluid-filled sacs that are located between the brain or spinal cord and the arachnoid membrane, which is one of the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.

Although it was still a serious health condition, Jude’s diagnosis of arachnoid cysts meant he would have the opportunity to develop into a healthy, happy and active little boy. “The only physical limitation Jude has now is no contact sports like football that place him at an increased risk for developing a head injury,” said Clark.

After receiving an accurate diagnosis at Batson Children’s Hospital, there was hope of a successful recovery for Jude that the Clark family did not anticipate previously. “There was a peace of mind, not only with the medical care, but also with the financial aspect of it,” said Clark. “Living on a teacher’s salary at the time before I began working for Sanderson Farms, I knew there would be a financial burden that would come along with seeing a pediatric neurologist. Because of the charitable giving of companies like Sanderson Farms and other nonprofits like Friends of Children’s Hospital, we did not have to face that financial burden.”

Unfortunately for the Clark family, that experience would not be the only time they would have to face the burden of a sick child. Several years later, their youngest son, Harvey, was discovered to have unusually high blood pressure during a routine check-up with his doctor. Over the next several months, three-year-old Harvey’s blood pressure continued to remain well above normal range and his doctor decided it was time to do further testing at Batson Children’s Hospital.

After a nephrologist assessed Harvey’s kidneys and heart through various different tests, all results returned normal and they continued to monitor his blood pressure. Over the last year and a half, his blood pressure has decreased, but it is still considered high and experts at the hospital continue to monitor Harvey and his health.

“After meeting the staff at Batson Children’s Hospital, we knew our children were in good hands,” said Clark. “Your primary concern is for your child’s well-being, and due to the charitable giving of companies like Sanderson Farms, we were able to focus on their health.”

Children’s of Mississippi, which includes Batson Children’s Hospital and all University of Mississippi Medical Center pediatric care, helps so many families like the Clark family all across the state of Mississippi. “You hear stories all the time of someone else’s child having some type of illness, but you never think it will be your children,” said Clark. “When it’s your child that’s sick, you will do anything for answers.”

After Clark started working for Sanderson Farms, he learned of the company’s annual PGA TOUR event, the Sanderson Farms Championship, which benefits Friends of Children’s Hospital. It didn’t take long after joining the company for him to commit to giving back to the hospital that had provided such excellent care for his children.

“Every weekend for the last four years, I have been volunteering,” said Clark. “It is the smallest of sacrifices that I can contribute. The Sanderson Farms Championship means hope for so many, and I want to give a piece of that hope to everyone in need.”

As a token of appreciation for the countless hours volunteers donate each year to the Sanderson Farms Championship, a special recognition called the Golden Rooster Club is designated for volunteers who go above and beyond by committing 20 or more hours of service to the tournament. One of those special “golden rooster” volunteers is Clark, who considers the event his “golden opportunity” to give back to the cause that made such an impact on the health of his two sons.