By Haley Watson, Correspondent
In a small multipurpose room in McLane Children’s Medical Center, people gathered while a young boy and local painter sat at a table signing books for patients and employees.
On Friday, May 26 at 11 a.m, 8-year-old Case Hodge held a book signing for the public at McLane Children’s. When he was six years old, Hodge wrote “The Bear Tale”, a children’s story about panda bears with a religious message. With the help of his grandmother the book was later illustrated by Debbi Unger, mural painter for Scott and White, and self-published by his grandmother, Myrta Hodge.
“He’s an amazing child.” said Myrta Hodge.
When Hodge was six years old, he visited his grandmother at her office when she was typing short children’s stories. After she read them to him, he asked if he could try. She helped him type several stories and said “The Bear Tale” was the best one.
“When [Myrta] would try to change things he was saying, he would say, ‘No “M” it has to have a message, I want it to have a message.’” said Hodge’s mom, Kristen Hodge.
Hodge wanted to host a book signing at McLane Children’s because he wanted to help the children who needed medical assistance.
“I want to help them get better.” said Hodge.
He donated a signed copy of “The Bear Tale” to each child in the hospital, and sold signed books to anyone who wanted one for $10. Unger also donated one of her original painting of the artwork from the book to raffle for the cause. Forty percent of all proceeds from the day were donated to the Baylor Scott and White Central Texas Foundation to benefit McLane Children’s.
“Case came to me and asked if he could give out books to the kids.” “I know the staff has been super excited.” said Rachel Clark, Foundation Specialist.
Hodge and his family also reached out to many local people and businesses for donations to the cause. Sponsors that donated $100 or more were recognized on a banner located next to the signing table. Sponsors included Gunter Financial Services, Lone Star Paint and Body, Drive 1 of Killeen, First Texas Brokerage, Rita Zbranek Farmers Branch, David Stanford, Mary Hodge, Terry and Betty Thompson, Comet Cleaners of Belton, Edward Jones Investments, Mark Thompson, Fairway Independent Mortgage Co. The Wood Group, Rollo Insurance Justin Gaidusek, That Art Place of Belton and Young Motor Company.
“It was a blessing for us to try to bless the kids and the hospital.” said Kristen Hodge.
“The Bear Tale” by Case Hodge can be purchased at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.com.