Community rallies around boy battling cancer

Published 6:57 pm Thursday, November 17, 2016

The folks at Down on Mainstreet are known for serving good food with Southern hospitality. These days, they want to serve a heaping helping of compassion and hope for a young boy.

This boy, Mason Overton, 4, is one of their own. He’s the son of Thomas and Brookes Overton. Brookes Overton works at the downtown Washington restaurant as a manager, bartender and waitress. She’s been there 10 years.

Mason has been diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma, a non-Hodgkins lymphoma. It is somewhat rare, accounting for about 2 percent of all non-Hodgkins lymphomas.

“On Nov. 23, a percentage of the sales from Down on Mainstreet are going to go directly to Brookes to help with Mason. … He was diagnosed on Nov. 9,” said Mindy Ball, a waitress and bartender at the restaurant.

Down on Mainstreet owners Glenn and Gennia Wetherington decided the fundraising effort Wednesday will run from when the restaurant opens until it closes. “We want everybody to come out and eat here, and that will help support them (Overton family),” Ball said.

The restaurant is raising funds by other means, including direct donations from customers, friends and a GoFundMe account, Ball said. “All the employees have donated. Customers are coming in every day and donating. I think we’ve raised … close to $3,000 just in a week’s time,” Ball said. “That’s not including — I know of a couple of people who have gone to the hospital and personally handed them (Mason’s family) money.”

Mason’s hospitalization caught Mason’s family, the restaurant staff and others off guard, she noted. “Brookes is really involved with her kids. If you look at her Facebook, Snapchat or anything, it’s nothing but her children.”

“Everybody knew that Mason had been sick, that he had been having chest problems,” Ball said. After several trips to various doctors who provided varying diagnoses, personnel at Mason’s day care center advised Brookes Overton to take him to the hospital because he was experiencing breathing difficulties. Vidant Bertie Hospital sent him to Greenville, where Mason eventually was admitted to the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital.

“He had a 10-by-2-centimeter mass in his chest,” Ball said, adding that a biopsy determined he is suffering from lymphoblastic lymphoma. “They’ve got him on chemo, and he’s doing really good.”

“For one thing, we were completely shocked,” Brookes Overton said. “His original doctor said there was nothing wrong with him, that he was making himself sound that way and cough because he had been sick for so long. We were just shocked. It was unbelievable. It’s still hard to believe.”

Overton said she’s appreciative of the support showed by co-workers and others.

“It’s very overwhelming. It’s unbelievable, actually, that so many people care and are willing to help us out, especially all the customers and random people wanting to help,” Overton said.

Mason was scheduled to have a fourth chemotherapy treatment Thursday, possibly coming home today, “if everything goes OK,” Overton said. If Mason comes home, he will have to return to the hospital for additional treatment, she noted.

Mason’s initial treatment occurred in the Kids Immunosuppressed Specialty Unit at the children’s hospital. KISU is a special, six-bed unit for children with cancer, blood disorders, kidney disorder, sickle-cell disease and other illnesses that compromise their immune systems.

The GoFundMe account for Mason can be accessed at Other donations may be made at Down on Mainstreet, 107 W. Main St., Washington.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

email author More by Mike