Some news stories tie criminal mugshots to the front page. Reporters fashion their written words, which are placed bolo a headline. A prosecutor might have filed formal charges, and the reporter may need to collar for a quote or ascot a follow-up question about the case. This is knot one of those stories.
There is no doubt that Robert and Roger Crawley are brothers. Though Robert is Roger's senior by five years, both brothers favor one another almost like a pair of twins. One difference that sticks out, however, is a simple fashion statement: a necktie. Robert, the older one, was born with severe scoliosis. He has had eight back surgeries at a Little Rock hospital since he was in second grade. “It seemed like every year,” said his mom, Brenda. "They put rods in his back when he was in the second grade, but the rods didn't do good at all.” After his most recent surgery, in 2012, the surgeon had unfortunate news. "They told us there was nothing else he could do [for Robert's back],” Brenda said. Robert, now 13, is scheduled for an extensive, corrective procedure and surgery next month at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He is expected to spend much of the second half of his seventh grade year in the hospital. Brenda will accompany him in the Show Me State hospital during the eight or nine weeks required for the correction while Roger finishes up the second grade and stays home with dad, Robert Crawley Sr. Roger, a who attends Central Primary School, is crazy about his big brother. "Those two boys are close," Brenda said. "Roger loves his brother." Siftings readers might remember the younger Crawley from a recent edition in which he was pictured on the front page wearing his “trademark necktie." Teachers and classmates have picked up on his choice in formal wear. Asked why an 8-yearold boy wears a necktie on an almost daily basis, Brenda was just as puzzled as others are. “It’s something about a tie,” she said. "He wants to be dressed up. I don't know what it is. He's been doing that ever since he was in kindergarten. … I'm not going to tell him he can’t wear one." Teachers at Central have taken note of this unique trait and have come up with a similarly unique way to help raise funds to offset travel and lodging expenses for Robert Jr. and Brenda. In conjunction with next week's Great Kindness Challenge, a campaign with many activities to promote kindness and prevent bullying, students at Central are encouraged to emulate Roger's choice in handsome attire and wear a necktie on Thursday (other days of the week have various themes). In case some students' dads don't have a tie hidden away in a drawer or closet, one teacher purchased 126 ties from the Salvation Army store in Hot Springs for 25 cents apiece. Those ties will be sold to students for $1 apiece, and all the proceeds will benefit the Crawley family for the travel to and lodging in St. Louis. It is hoped that all 311 students at Central will have a necktie to wear. Since roughly 185 ties may still be needed for that to happen, residents in the community are encouraged to donate old ties. They can be dropped off at Central Primary School or at the Siftings Herald newspaper office, located at 205 S. 26th St., Arkadelphia. On Thursday, there will be volunteers from the Clark County Sheriff 's Office and other volunteers tying the neckties during Central’s Morning Show for students to wear. Charlotte DeWitt, counselor at Central, said, "The Great Kindness Challenge is one week devoted to performing as many acts of kindness as possible. Along with the 50 acts of kindness, Central is really excited about raising money for this special family. Our hope is that every student at Central has a tie to wear to school next Thursday, and we need our community’s help to make that happen." While the Crawleys are assured most of the medical expenses will be taken care of, the community has come together to help make other ends meet. Aside from the fundraiser at Central, GMS school resource officer Coy Hasley has set up the Robert Crawley Benefit Account at Southern Bancorp for monetary donations. Robert will begin the lengthy procedure on Feb. 24 and stay in St. Louis until "the last of April or the first of May,” Brenda said. For six or seven weeks, Robert will be placed in a "halo,” which will stretch his body and prepare him for the extensive surgery once the halo is off. "They're going to take his whole back apart, remove a vertebra and put it back together,” Brenda said of the procedure. According to Brenda, doctors say little Robert will be able to return home to Arkadelphia "about a week [after the surgery] if everything goes OK." The procedure is expected to add 2-3 inches to Robert's height. Brenda added: “He hurts a lot. Sometimes, he has trouble breathing. The only thing I want is his back fixed."