AO - Anything Outdoors
July 2020, Volume 115
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Anyone living in South Louisiana has come across a cap, a shirt or seen a sticker on a vehicle that says “Anything Outdoors.” I, like most had seen the slogan and wondered what it was so off to the internet I go. It didn’t take long to narrow the search to Jacob and Renee Heath and their son Preston. In preparing for this article, I talked with dad, Jacob and I was reading the Anything Outdoors website. Here is the story behind the events that led to the creation of Anything Outdoors as stated by Renee on the website.
Jacob and Renee Heath were so excited to have a son. Preston was a happy, healthy baby boy until one and a half years old. Jacob and Renee noticed some bruising on Preston’s lower back and lots of bruising on his legs. When they spoke to the pediatrician about it, they were told that the bruise were normal and not to worry. Being first time parents, they listen to the doctor. A couple months later, Preston started staying sick with not normal illnesses.
On Halloween 2009, Preston had come back from the doctor and was diagnosed with Bronchitis and prescribed Augmentin. While Renee was dressing Preston she noticed small sores in his head and thought he maybe having an allergic reaction to his medicine so she gave him some Benadryl. Preston seemed fine to go trick a treating for a little bit so Jacob and Renee took him but he didn’t last long. The next morning they woke up to Preston’s entire arm being purple and he was covered in small pinpoint bruises.
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More than fishing, Anything Outdoors embodies its namesake as seen here with Prestons First Doe in Arkansas in 2018.
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They rushed Preston to Our Lady of the Lake Children’s hospital in Baton Rouge, LA. When they arrived the nurses rushed them to a room and said Preston either has cancer or a blood disorder. After a week of testing and his first of many bone marrow biopsies, Preston was diagnosed with a very rare, life threating blood disorder called Severe Aplastic Anemia. Severe Aplastic Anemia is a disease in which the bond marrow does not make enough red or white blood cells or platelets for the body.
Preston had 6 months of treatment done at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital but on May 13, 2010, they learned that the treatment did not work. Preston’s doctors told his parents that his only hope would be a bone marrow transplant at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN.
Preston, Renee, and Renee’s mom moved to Memphis while Jacob worked at home and he would come up on weekends to visit. After one donor backing out and 2 weeks of high dose chemotherapy, Preston received his life saving bone marrow transplant on September 29, 2009, the day after his third birthday. Preston had a lot of struggles after transplant with many viruses, graft vs. host, fevers, and too many hospital stays to count, but after 7 months Preston was able to return to Louisiana cured of Severe Aplastic Anemia. He still has annual visits to St. Jude and some side effects, but Preston is now a happy, healthy boy again!
Man what a roller coaster ride these parents and this family went through to get where they are today. If it hadn’t been for the amazing doctors and staff at St. Jude’s who knows how the story may have ended.
No doubt the experience left a lasting impression with the Heath family and more families benefit yearly as a result. Renee and Jacob have created a nonprofit just for raising money to help support St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Anything Outdoors is a fully licensed 501-c-3 founded in 2016 by Jacob. Being able to help other families in the same situation the Heath’s had been in was something Renee and Jacob knew they wanted to do. Through the foundation, AO is able to donate monetarily to families in need through St. Jude’s Hospital.
Anything Outdoors is able to help through the year by offering the community various ways to contribute to the cause. The clothing line and apparel among many fundraising activities such as the July 11th Bayou Bash help the mission. Bayou Bash will consist of a Mini-Pot Jambalaya Contest from 3 – 6 pm with winners being announced on stage at 6:30 before the band Ryan Foret and Foret Traditions kicks off from 7-11 pm. Jambalaya and Alcohol will be served with all profits going to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. For tickets or event information contact Anything Outdoors at 225-810-2606.
The AO Family(right to left): Jacob, Renee, Preston and His Brothers, Jude and Brantley
More outdoors firsts with Prestons First Duck Hunt in 2018.
More information will be coming soon on the Anything Outdoors Fall Fest coming in September. In the meantime, drop by the many vendors that carry the AO merchandise or go online at http://anythingoutdoorshelpingkids.com to order yours today!
Bassin’ in the Boot is proud to sponsor with Anything Outdoors and their commitment to help families and children. If you would like more information visit the website where you can help make a difference with a purchase or a donation.
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The Heath boys pictured during a day on the water.