Raymond Felton of Elizabeth City is grateful for the kindness of a stranger -- a famous one at that.
Felton's stepson Richie Artis is fighting cancer and has been hospitalized for the last month at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters.
Last Saturday, he received a surprise visit from seven-time Grammy Award winning gospel singer Kirk Franklin.
"It was wonderful that Kirk Franklin took time out for somebody he didn't even know. That is the part that got me," Felton said about Franklin's visit to the hospital. "He was just as nice as he could be."
For Artis, the face-to-face meeting was a dream he'd requested from Toby's Dream Foundation, a program in the Greater Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore of Virginia for children with life-threatening illnesses. Felton said Artis was told he would need to wait until September.
Felton shot videos of Artis talking about his dream and posted them on Facebook. When Artis's mother Letrice Felton tweeted about her son's dream - a tweet from Franklin came back. From there, Franklin's manager arranged the visit and he arrived in everyday clothes without much fanfare, Felton recalled.
When the two met, Artis talked about wanting to see Franklin in concert, and Franklin said he'd invite Artis to do a "Milli Walk" on stage.
The visit has given Artis new energy to keep fighting, but news this week that the cancer has spread has family members concerned, said Raymond Felton.
Artis, a Pasquotank High School junior, was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was three years old and has needed to wear life support devices to this day. Felton said doctors were surprised when Artis wore out the shunt he was wearing and needed a replacement in 2008. He began cancer treatments again at CHKD late last year, this time for prostate cancer, after complaining about pains in his abdomen.
The Feltons are planning a gospel concert on Saturday to raise money for a possible trip to Dallas where a doctor may be able to help. Raymond Felton said doctors at CHKD told the family they have exhausted what they can do in treating the teen's cancer that has now spread to his liver.
The gospel concert on Saturday at the Museum of the Albemarle grounds will feature the Feltons as "Raytrice," a well-known gospel duo in Elizabeth City. "Raytrice" and three other recording artists with Ahoskie-based Savage Music Productions are scheduled to perform for the benefit. Donations will be accepted at the free event.