By Oana Vesa
The Albion Biggby Coffee house on Friday, Jan. 30, was bustling with the steady hum of chatter from the customers. Sky blue shirts with the “Super Z” decal dominated the room. From students to the elderly, the community of Albion and nearby Springport gathered to raise money for Zayne Warren, a four-year-old from the Springport area in need of optic glioma surgery. Laughter, smiles and greetings radiated from the customers, as everyone within the community conversed with one another.
Zayne Warren is from the Springport area in Jackson County with optic glioma. Optic glioma is a tumor that grows in “various parts of the brain” and can affect the “optic nerves that carry visual information to the brain from each eye” according to MedlinePlus. A common symptom of this tumor is vision loss. In addition to having the tumor, it was recently discovered that he has a cyst growing alongside the tumor, so surgery is necessary.
Upon arriving, Zayne was greeted warmly and gifted his own “Super Z” t-shirt that was slightly too big, so it hung off of him a little. By the way he clung to his dad and glanced around the place, he was slightly intimidated by the amount of people who wanted to talk and take pictures with him. With a shy, soft-spoken tone, Zayne interacted with the people. However, it did not take that long for him to adjust and smile.
For the past month, the Albion Biggby Coffee house has been helping to raise awareness and funds for Zayne’s surgery in Texas this year. With every coupon presented from their facebook page, a dollar from the proceeds of each purchase will go towards his surgery. To commemorate this month-long event, on Jan. 30, the owners invited Zayne for a little meet and greet session, where Zayne even helped whip up a few drinks.
Jake Warren, Zayne’s father, says that Zayne deals with the tumor every day. “It does affect him every day, and he has good days and bad. So, we’re going ahead with the surgery to get the cyst under control and the tumor under control, and it’ll stop with the vision loss,” Warren said. In addition to vision loss, he also has insomnia and really bad headaches.
Before Zayne’s surgery, Randy Neelis, the Albion Biggby Coffee house owner and Springport High School alumnus, put this event together. “…We thought that it would be kind of cool to get him in before he heads to Texas,” Neelis said.
Neelis also mentioned why he specifically helped put this event together. “Because it’s the right thing to do for one…his [Zayne’s] family’s from the Springport area. My wife and myself both graduated from Springport High School. I’ve been a long time coach and wrestler up at Springport. The wrestling team has been raising money for his family through the sale of shirts. We came up with the design “Super Zayne” or “Super Z”. So there’s been a lot of attention drawn to that,” Neelis said.
Moreover, the Biggby Coffee event exemplified the tight-knit community in the local Albion area. Despite Zayne being from the Springport area in Jackson, the local Albion firefighters and policemen all gathered to showcase their support as they all bought coffee, talked to attendees and Zayne, and let Zayne ride on the fire truck.
Scott Kipp, Chief of Public Safety for Albion, took part in also helping set up this event for Zayne. “I saw the ad that Biggby Coffee put on their facebook page…when I saw the coupons that they had out for it, I sent it to all the officers. And then Officer Todd Jeschke decided to do something and have us all come down here,” Kipp said.
At the moment, the Warren family does not know if the tumor is malignant or benign. “It’s on his optic chiasm, which is underneath his optic nerve or under his brain, so by chance, they haven’t been able to go in and do the surgery because of the risks,” Warren said. “We’re temporarily relocating down there [Texas]. So we will go down there for the surgery and the rehab and recovery time…What comes after that, I don’t know.”