Cory Hamann organizes trees Monday at the Christmas Trees for Carter lot in Butte Falls. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
The small mountain town of Butte Falls is once again rallying behind one of its best-known residents, Carter Anderson, 13, who suffers from a rare nervous system disorder called PKAN.
The Sugar Pine Cafe in Butte Falls is spearheading a Christmas tree lot called “Christmas Trees for Carter.” The lot, adjacent to the cafe, at 343 Broad St., contains dozens of trees, ranging from Douglas firs to silvertip firs.
The trees are free, but the cafe owners are hopeful that people who pick one up at the lot will give a donation to the Spoonbill Foundation. The Portland-based entity is dedicated to discovering, developing and delivering therapeutics for PKAN — pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration — the disorder that affects Carter.
“I just thought it would be a good thing for our town to support them and help them out,” said Cory Hamann, co-owner of Sugar Pine Cafe. “I had never even heard of PKAN before Carter. I’m trying not to cry just talking about it, but it’s devastating to the whole family. I can’t imagine being Blair and Courtney.”
Blair and Courtney Anderson are Carter’s parents. Blair, a longtime Butte Falls resident, expressed his appreciation for what the cafe is doing as he cares for his son, who is bedridden and requires 24-hour care.
“I’m very humbled by the support that we receive through the tree lot, and I’m so thankful that people have the ability to give through such a worthy cause,” Blair said.
This year marks the seventh time Sugar Pine Cafe has initiated the tree lot, open 24/7 from now until Christmas. In years past, donations garnered were in the low thousands, Hamann said, but in 2021, the cafe received a record-setting $5,000.
“It slows down right before Christmas and everyone has pretty much got their tree,” Hamann said.
The trees used for the lot are cut on Bureau of Land Management land above Butte Falls, Hamann said. Tree cutters have included her family, Butte Falls Fire Chief Jeff Gorman and members of the local 4-H Club.
Hamann said members of the community can contribute to cutting trees if they call the cafe, at 541-865-3311, and ask for her so she can provide the permit.
She added that more trees were on the way to the lot to replace the dozens already sold. People can leave an envelope with their monetary contribution under the door of the cafe if they come to the lot when the business is closed.
“We check it regularly,” Hamann said.
The cafe’s co-owner is hopeful people will find it in their hearts to donate toward this specialized medical research when they pick up a tree.
“It’s the giving season,” Hamann said. “They’re supporting a good cause. I make sure if I see people out there and they ask me, I tell people all about Carter and how this research has helped with medicine to help more of these kids. A lot of them die by the time they’re 13.”
“He’s a blessing in my life, an angel sent from God,” Blair said. “God has taught me how to deal with this and be the best Sherpa for Carter in his journey to save the world. This is a global problem, PKAN, whether you’re poor or rich.”
Blair added he considers his son a gift and, by the way, the family has not had a Christmas tree at home in four years.
“It did (make me sad) at first, but the love of our family and community makes up for it,” Blair said. “Sometimes you have to make sacrifices in life, but as long as my son is healthy, that’s like having a Christmas tree every day.”
Hamann urged people to come by the lot and put in a donation when they get their tree, saying, “This is so much more important than buying a toy.”
Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.
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