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Fundraiser slated for Karns High School student Friday

Stanton Oster has a lot of friends.

In fact, the whole Karns community is among those he counts as friends as the group decided to donate proceeds from its 56th Annual Karns Fair to help Stanton and his family recover financially from the strain of medical bills.

Stanton, 17, recently underwent surgery to remove what was deemed a benign brain tumor.

“BBQ, Pickin’ and a Movie” is the theme of the fair benefiting the Oster family, which is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m., Friday, July 24, at Karns High School.

The event features live music and a screening of the Walt Disney film “Wall-E.”

Food for the event has been donated and costs $5 per plate, the proceeds of which go towards helping pay the Oster’s medical expenses.

“It’s awful nice of them to do that. I can’t believe someone would do that,” Stanton said.

Throughout Stanton’s struggle, his mother, Gina, has been asking her friends and neighbors to pray for her family. She believes those prayers were in action when Stanton’s tumor was found to be benign. Now they are being blessed again through the thoughtful actions of their community.

“We owe about $18,000 in medical bills,” Gina said.

It’s been a rough year for the Osters. Stanton, their oldest son, had the tumor removed in January. The surgery left him with vision problems that called for another surgery in June. He spent four months in physical therapy and was home schooled for the spring semester to make sure that he’d be ready for his senior year at Karns High School. Add to the mix that his mother, Gina, has had several bouts of pancreatitis, making her unable to work.

“It’s been a huge life changer,” Stanton says. “It really opened my eyes. I’ve always heard tomorrow’s not guaranteed. I know that now, and how lucky I am.”

Gina breaks down talking about her son’s life before the surgery.

“He was just a typical teenager,” she said. “He played on the Karns High School baseball team. He was active in his honors classes. He held a full-time job last summer. He was very involved with his younger brothers and helped his dad coach the middle school baseball team. … He’s a very good kid.”

When Stanton was in third grade, a spot was found inside the fourth ventricle of his brain. He was hospitalized at the time having surgery for another condition, called lymphangioma, which was causing a mass of benign cells to grow in the back of his throat. Their doctor told them that the spot was probably just a birthmark and not to worry unless it grew.

It wouldn’t grow until eight years later. In December 2008, Stanton went in for a routine magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, and the spot had doubled in size in only a year and a half.

He kept up his normal routine of baseball, school finals and ACT tests up until the surgery.

Gina said, “He didn’t want to be treated any differently.”

Stanton spent 12 hours in surgery Jan. 7. The tumor was removed and found to be benign. He had a few complications, as are common with brain surgeries, and spent nine days in the Intensive Care Unit at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. He was left with double vision at the time, as his right eye had rolled up into the socket. He had corrective eye surgery in June, on his 17th birthday.

Today, Stanton is functioning very well. He is finishing his home schooling classes in art, Spanish and English, so he won’t be missing any credits when he returns to school in August. Though he’s lost a lot of muscle mass, he’s starting to hit again, and will be returning to the Karns baseball team.

“We do have to do MRIs for the next 10 years,” Gina said. “This year we have to do it every three months. We have one coming up Aug. 11 and another in November. The tumor could actually come back. It could come back in the same spot or in a different spot in the brain.”

“This kind of tumor is mostly found in children and teenagers. [Doctors] don’t know why. They are always benign, and they can come in any part of the brain, but they are usually where his was. They don’t what causes them. But once you’ve had a tumor in the brain you have a higher tendency for something else to reappear.”

Stanton said he is very grateful for the support that he has received. “Anybody that comes [to the BBQ] or has been praying for me. . . thank you.”

For those unable to attend the “BBQ, Pickin’ and a Movie” fundraiser, donations can be made by contacting Kelley Grabill at


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