ODENVILLE – It’s a story about how an entire community came together for one little girl.
Mary Ellen Sparks’ book, entitled “Candy Kisses — My Miracle from God,” is about Candy Sparks Candy Sparks was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 11. She actually battled three life-threatening illnesses. Mary Sparks said her daughter actually died at one time for five minutes, but was revived in the hospital.
Mary calls it “a book about a miracle.”
“The community joined hands with us, and through God, kept us, prayed with us, loved us, and helped us through our miracle of Candy,” Mary said. “This book tells the story of the entire journey of the family, and everything we went through.
“It is a real powerful book, and Candy’s story is tied to another little 16-year-old girl who actually died. But Candy’s story and hers linked together are very powerful.”
Today, Candy is 27, and a teacher at Odenville Intermediate School, which she also attended as a child. She was with her mom at the Odenville Public Library Friday for a book signing.
Mary said people are purchasing the book and actually giving them as birthday gifts or going to give them out as Christmas presents.
“People are coming back to purchase more books to give to people who are going through cancer, leukemia or other stuff,” Mary said. “It’s really amazing, and all I want out of it is for it to bless God. I hope the book will help people find a miracle in their life they need, no matter the chapter of life they may be going through.”
Candy said she is “most definitely a miracle.”
“I just want to thank the people of Odenville for loving me and praying for me,” Candy said. “I thank everyone for giving me and my family everything we needed to get through this. They were always there, and 15 years later, so many are still there helping.”
At Friday’s book signing, the two ladies brought cards and letters Candy received when she was going through leukemia some 15 years ago. There were cards of get-well wishes, cards of hope and cards of prayer.
“We actually have four large storage tubs full of cards for Candy,” Mary said. “I tell about some of that in the book. Students at her school wrote cards of get-well wishes. A blood drive was held by the students, and it turned into a huge community event.”
Candy said she has learned to appreciate the smaller things in life.
“You never know what you have until it’s gone,” she said. “There are so many things in this life we take for granted. We just don’t understand all the many blessings we have until we do not have them anymore.
“There was a time during this journey when I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t walk. Simply things like that, and those are things we take for granted so much. It gave me a new perspective on life.”
Candy was in the sixth grade when she received her diagnosis. It was April, so she home-schooled the rest of that year and the entire seventh-grade year. She was able to go back to school in the eighth grade.
“I was so excited about being back, and my classmates were excited as well,” Candy said. “My last weekly leukemia treatment was when I was a sophomore, and I remember when it was all over with, I came back to school, and they threw me a surprise party. Everybody was so excited that my treatments were over with.”
Candy graduated from St. Clair County High School in 2003. She earned her B.S. and Master’s degree in Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
When school starts Aug. 20, it will be Candy’s third year to teach at Odenville Intermediate School. After two years in fourth grade, Candy will teach third grade this year.
“It is so wonderful being able to walk through the same halls I walked through when I joined back when I was in the eighth grade,” Candy said. “I’m at the very same building. Back then, I was a student, and now, I am a teacher.
“I think it is real weird for some of the other teachers, and the lunchroom staff that saw me go through there as a student. It’s just wonderful being able to be back in that community.”
Candy said it never occurred to her when she was a student in the eighth grade that she would one day be back as a teacher.
“I don’t know why it didn’t hit me, but it is so wonderful,” she said. “It is a dream come true. It is absolutely my dream job, and God has blessed me.”
“Candy Kisses — My Miracle from God” is available for sale at the Odenville Library for $14. To obtain more information contact the library at 205 629-5901 Or email Mary Ellen Sparks at email@example.com. The book is now available online at Amazon and coming soon to Christian bookstores nationwide.