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Punks Steal Little Girl’s Cancer Fund

There is something worse than stealing candy from a baby. It happened the other day at Pop-Off’s, a Spokane burger joint at Mission and Greene.

Three heartless punks ran off with a wad of bills customers donated to help a toddler’s life-and-death war with cancer.

Cindy Taylor, the little girl’s grandmother, told me the details in a voice thick with emotion. “If they only knew what she is going through,” she said. “It just makes me sick.”

Sick is one word for it. I know a few unprintable terms that would be more on target.

It’s difficult to imagine people so spiritually and morally bankrupt that they would loot a child’s cancer fund, but it gets worse.

To steal the money, the thieves had to first gaze straight into the eyes of Samantha Baumbauer.

Her color photograph, set inside a border of purple hearts, was part of a poster taped to a gallon jar on the restaurant’s counter.

The story in bold type was hard to miss:

I need your help. I have cancer called neuroblastoma and I need a bone marrow reinfusion. I am full of love and hugs.

“We have to go to Seattle for two or more months and I need help for medical expenses and a place to stay. All your help is really appreciated!

Please donate and keep me in your prayers.

Pop-Off’s owner Janet Wing-Welter didn’t fret about leaving the money jar out in the open.

“I didn’t think anybody would take it,” she said, estimating the loss at about $50. “But they have no feelings. If that little girl was standing right here they’d take the money out of her hands.”

This wasn’t the work of the usual drug-peddling street vermin who prowl West First. According to Wing-Welter, the thieves were 19 to 23 years old and looked like college kids with close-cropped hair and earrings.

They came into the restaurant last Saturday afternoon. After loitering awhile they took off abruptly, driving away in what may be a black Jeep with a canvas top.

The suspicious owner found the jar on the restroom floor. Everything was gone except for some change and a $5 bill they must have overlooked.

Wing-Welter said she called Crime Check, but the person she spoke with didn’t seem very interested.

Too bad. I’ll bet a lot of people in this city would love to get their hands on these vile creeps.

These thieves deserved to be caned publicly, but I can think of a better fate. Should they ever wind up in court, I hope the judge orders them to spend a few weeks helping care for Samantha Baumbauer.

They would find this little sweetheart in the pediatric intensive care unit of Deaconess Medical Center.

She is battling a secondary infection, a result of her immune system being in such a weakened state. The chemotherapy has made her head as bald as an onion. A thick intravenous line runs from machines into her chest.

Hospitals, doctors and tests have been Samantha’s world since February, when her parents, Nickie and Stan, noticed an odd lump on her neck.

Not too long ago kids with such an aggressive form of cancer were under a certain death sentence. Today, thanks to marrow transplants, many of them beat their disease.

The cost, of course, is staggering. Samantha has medical insurance to cover the bulk of her treatment, but the expenses not covered have already wiped out her young parents.

“We don’t have a choice,” explained Nickie. “We had to move out of our house. We gave up all our things. The bills are piling up, but we have to do what we have to do.”

Nickie paused. A look of disgust and pain washed over her face.

“The more I think about it the madder I get. I’d like to find whoever took that money and spank them.”

, DataTimes MEMO: Donations can be made to the Samantha Fund at any Washington Trust Bank. Account number 200 194 2689.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review

Donations can be made to the Samantha Fund at any Washington Trust Bank. Account number 200 194 2689.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review