Be Gavin Strong: Local Launching Campaign to Bring Healing Smiles to 2-year-old Gavin Morris

By Julie Perine on June 07, 2012


Melinda McQuain Petroff is known for her work at Simpson Elementary School, including the organization of fall festival fund-raisers that have maximum kid appeal. Putting smiles on the faces of kids is just her thing. And she could never pull the annual events without a lot of good support from parents, teachers and the community in general.

This time, Petroff has undertaken a different type of project, but one with which she needs major support.

“Gavin Morris (my great-nephew) has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. He has shown incredible strength and has been so brave. In honor of that, the phrase ‘GAVIN STRONG’ has become our mantra,” she said.

The diagnosis was just confirmed in late-May and Gavin completed his first chemotherapy treatment the very same day.
Turning 3 years old in August, Gavin is the son of Chad and Tosha Morris. Previously from Grafton, the family now lives in Ripley and includes little brother Greyson.

“They are a wonderful, hard-working and very loving family,” Petroff said. “Tosha and Chad are amazing parents.”

It was just a month ago when Gavin was being treated for what his doctors believed to be an ear infection. The infection cleared up, but the pain continued. Tosha Morris took her son to Charleston Area Medical Center, where a CAT scan indicated a tumor. Gavin was sent to Columbus for testing and within days, a bone marrow biopsy confirmed the diagnosis.

“Imagine, one day your child is a healthy happy little boy...beaming with joy and laughter and almost overnight....he is diagnosed with cancer,” Petroff said.  “That is the situation Gavin and his family face.”

Petroff is active in organizing a number of fund-raisers for the family, including a golf tournament, an elimination dinner and outdoor concert and children’s festival – all dates yet to be determined.

But in the meantime, there are a couple of ways her community can get behind her in the effort to assist her family with their medical expenses and bring a smile to Gavin’s face.

Custom-designed T-shirts have been designed and are available for purchase for $15 each at (Design for T-shirt front is shown above and back design is shown right. )

She is also gathering “strong man faces/poses” for Gavin.

“Our goal is to collect 1,000 strong man faces for Gavin by the end of June,” she said. “At the end of the month, we will make a photo book for him. Pictures will also be posted on the website at the end of the month.”

Those photos can be emailed to or by joining the “Be Gavin Strong” Facebook group and uploading a photo.

Gavin is receiving treatments at CAMC Women and Children’s Hospital. Wishes of encouragement are appreciated.
Editor's Note: Jump on the bandwagon and submit your "Gavin Strong" muscle photos from home, work or out and about. Send them to and we'll include them in the gallery below.§ion=News&item=Be-Gavin-Strong-Gallery-Jump-on-the-Bandwagon-and-Show-Your-Support490 


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Hey everyone, if you tried to give a gift through Pay Pal link on and you had a problem, please try again. There was an issue with the pay pal button that I was unaware of, but it will be fixed today!

You can give gifts at as well. Sorry for this! Melinda Petroff

Posted by melinda petroff
Jun. 09, 2012 at 3:19 PM EST

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