Wearing gold for Keely


Gold is a precious metal and is often associated with winning. Gold symbolizes champions.

It is fitting that the gold ribbon is the international awareness symbol for childhood cancer. The color gold represents how precious children are and the resiliency of childhood cancer heroes.

Gold is for 16-year-old Keely Ramshur and the faculty, staff and students at River City Early College.

Keely, a junior, was recently diagnosed with fibrolamellar carcinoma, a rare form of liver cancer.

“A few weeks ago, Keely started complaining that she felt weak and dizzy,” said Keely’s mother, Toni Ramshur. “She was having a hard time catching her breath and she spiked a fever. We went to the emergency room here (Merit Health River Region) and the ER staff thought the same thing I did: COVID.”

That didn’t turn out to be the problem. On a follow-up visit with her regular doctor, her liver enzymes were off, so the doctor ordered a CT scan. That’s when three tumors were discovered.

“Keely’s case is very rare for a teenager. It’s like one in 5 million. So, we made the decision to go to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis,” Ramshur said.

The news about Keely reached Carolyn Bradley, a teacher at RCEC.

“It was especially devastating because I had the honor of knowing and teaching Afton Wallace and Natalie McMillan, two local girls who lost their battle with cancer,” she said.

Bradley knew she wanted to help Keely win this war, so she turned to the staff and students at school.

“We knew one way we could help the family is with financial support,” she said. “We’re selling #KeelyStrong bracelets, dinner and raffle tickets and of course, the gold T-shirts.”

The American Childhood Cancer Organization chose the color gold to represent cancer’s youngest warriors and heroes because gold is associated with victory.

“Our students came up with the idea of a weekly fundraiser where they can wear their gold shirts to show support,” Bradley said. “What’s been very special to witness is the willingness of our entire student body to want to be involved. It’s not just the junior class. Underclassmen who don’t even know her are still purchasing items and participating in the events. That’s the power of strong relationships and community in our school.”

(photo by Taylor Harrigill)

Marion Richardson, counselor at RCEC, said the support she’s seen goes beyond monetary.

“We have classes FaceTiming Keely while she’s at St. Jude, and students are writing her letters and cards. Our student body just really wants the family to know that we love them, we’re praying for them, and we are here in our gold cheering them on.”

Keely is receiving chemotherapy at St. Jude and is currently awaiting surgery. She is bravely fighting her battle and is determined to be victorious.

And she has an entire school and community waiting to celebrate with her at the finish line.

An account has been established in Keely’s name at Riverhills Bank. To purchase raffle tickets, bracelets or #KeelyStrong stickers, contact Kelcy Buell or Todd Downey at 601-529-2988.

A fundraising event is scheduled for Nov. 14 at the Elks Lodge, 1366 U.S. Highway 61 in Vicksburg.