Jordan Perry, left, holds up his United Parcel Service shirt as service provider Jatonna Hankins helps with his hat Tuesday in Clovis. When Hankins delivers packages in the neighborhood, the 5-year-old runs out to meet her. CNJ photo by Eric Kluth.
By Mike Linn: CNJ News Editor
Five-year-old Jordan Perry loves the big brown truck. And the driver of the big brown truck loves little Jordan.
Through life-threatening forms of cancer and years of deliveries to homes on Shay Marie Court, United Parcel Service driver Jatonna Hankins and Jordan share a special bond.
Hankins delivers the parcel, Jordan the excitement and a big smile everytime she arrives.
“Since he could walk he would come running out everytime I came by … and he’ll ask ‘did you bring me a box?’” Hankins said.
On Tuesday Jordan got his wish when Hankins pulled up to his grandparent’s house at Shay Marie Court in her UPS truck.
And this time Jordan got all the packages, which included a brown replica UPS toy truck, a hat for his head (stripped bald by chemotherapy) and a T-shirt.
Hankins and Jordan were diagnosed with cancer within a year of each other. Hankins underwent radiation for breast cancer two years ago and is in remission. Jordan is in the midst of an eight-month battle with rhabdomyosarcoma, a disease in which cancerous cells grow in muscle tissue.
Often diagnosed in children, there are about 250 new cases of rhabdomyosarcoma each year in the United States and the survival rate is about 70 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.
“That’s why he’s so special to me,” Hankins said. “It was hard for me at first when I found he had cancer because I wanted to take (all the pain) away from him.”
Shannon Perry, Jordan’s mother, has seen the hair fall off his head and the pain he’s endured and will until his treatments end, which she said may be in the spring.
But the pain was gone Tuesday, when the energetic Jordan used the inside of the UPS truck as his personal jungle gym, where he played on empty shelves with his 6-year-old sister Alleigh.
Kelly Mimms, who along with his wife watch Jordan during the week, said his grandson loves the UPS truck so much he’s been known to run after it bearfoot on blistering hot asphalt, and in his socks when it’s snowing.
“It’s a guy thing. He likes trains and trucks,” Mimms said.
Although Jordan said he prefers trains over the UPS vehicle, on Tuesday not even a bribe to McDonald’s would entice him off the truck.
“Are you ready to go home?” Hankins asked.
“No,” he said. “I’m staying here.”