By Leah Sander
WARSAW — Signs have gone up in and around Warsaw with one message: asking for prayers for Payton Slaymaker.
Slaymaker, 10, of Claypool, is battling diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a type of cancer that begins in the brain stem. She was diagnosed in 2019.
The new signs of support come at the same time the family has been selling yard signs as a fundraiser. According to the family’s Facebook page, the yard signs have been ordered from people in more than 40 states.
It’s not the first time the community has stepped forward to support Payton. Last year, dozens upon dozens of vehicles participated in a massive drive-by event near her home to offer encouragement.
Recently some businesses have opted to show their support for the family by asking for prayers for Payton via messages written on their store windows or posted on marquee signs.
Infinity Salon Owner Christa Harman said watching an update on Payton from Facebook made her want to put “Pray For Payton” on the store’s windows at 124 S. Buffalo St.
“I was watching an update video and it was the update that was kind of heavy and the doctors were not giving them much hope and I was like, I want to put something in our window so other people will pray for her,” she said. “I rushed in here, grabbed a ladder and wrote it on the windows.”
The salon had a fundraiser for the Slaymaker family in February. That was motivated in part by Harman’s personal experience.
“I had two older sisters that passed away from cancer,” she said. “And so when I heard about Payton’s story … my heart just broke for their family … I would say that in combination with clients talking about the Slaymaker family is what led us to do the fundraiser for her.”
Harman hopes the message will be an outreach to other people as well.
“I know that (Payton’s mother) Kim (Slaymaker) has mentioned that there have been several people that have reached out to her who don’t believe in prayer, who don’t believe in anything religious … so that was my main thing is just to get more people praying for her, but also you know maybe it will help somebody feel more led to believe in something higher, and so just that,” she said.
Harman even got MudLOVE next door at 122 S. Buffalo St. to put the message on its window.
Over at Boggs Pit Stop, 1721 E. Center St., Julie Tuinstra, who co-owns the business with her husband Andy Tuinstra, said she wanted to put “Fear Is A Liar! Pray For Payton Slaymaker” on the store’s marquee sign to show support for the family.
“I just really wanted to show the family our support,” she said. “They’re going through a really hard time anyway, just to show them love and support.”
She knows the family in several ways, one of which being that her kids and the Slaymaker kids both attend Claypool Elementary School.
“I just think she, Payton, is really inspiring. I think their family’s been really inspiring,” said Tuinstra. “You know like what they’re going right now, we can’t imagine because we haven’t been through it, but their faith has been unwavering, like nothing has deterred them from their end goal you know of just having faith in God … but just standing firm in all that, knowing in the end of the day that they have God and they have their Christianity and everything.”
JB’s Furniture, 2101 E. Center St., has “Pray for Payton” on its electronic sign. Employee Jennifer Manns attends church with the Slaymakers at Gospel Hill Pentecostal Church of God, Silver Lake.
“I’ve known Payton since she was 6 months old,” said Manns. She asked JB’s Owner, Jon Blackwood, for permission to put the message up.
“We just hope everybody prays for her, and it brings more awareness to DIPG,” she said.
Jennifer Stichter, general manager at The Bowling Alley, 1535 N. Detroit St., knew Kim Slaymaker and her sister, Kaila Dausman, from working at Warsaw Christian School, which the girls attended.
Several of Payton’s relatives also bowl at the business.
The business’ marquee sign reads, “Pray For Payton.”
“It’s just an awareness for the community,” said Stichter. “Our family believes strongly in prayer, so we’re praying for a miracle for her … and just praying that God will in some way show Himself to people in this community that don’t know Him.”
Tuinstra also added asking for prayers for Payton has united the community in a way.
“It is really neat to see everyone come together, especially in times like this where it seems like sometimes we’re all divided, but yet our community’s really good about coming together and supporting each other, especially when something like that’s going on,” she said.