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In November 2009, two days after his sixteenth birthday, Dylan stood before a crowd at Minnesota's Mall of America. He encouraged the assembled group to put their hearts into the Give thanks. Walk.® fundraiser for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital that they were about to start. He thanked them for their goodness.
"All we have to do is walk," Dylan told the crowd. "It's a miracle we can do this for St. Jude."
Dylan hoped he could adequately explain to the walkers the importance of their goal that day—how their support would help patients just like him. In August 2008, numbness in his left hand and a seizure prompted his family to take him to their local hospital. There, an MRI revealed a golf ball-sized tumor in Dylan's brain. It was a rare and deadly form of cancer known as a supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumor.
Surgeons at his local hospital removed the tumor, but Dylan needed follow-up care to prevent the cancer from returning. For that, his parents turned to St. Jude—the hospital they felt gave their son the best chance at beating the disease.
"We saw that the success rates are better at St. Jude than at other hospitals, and that was one of the contributing factors as to why we chose St. Jude," said his mom, Debbie.
Another factor was that, at St. Jude, Dylan's parents would never have to compromise on Dylan's treatment. St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance.
That's why events such as the Give thanks. Walk. are so important and why Dylan and his family participated.
Dylan told the crowd about the doctors and nurses at St. Jude, the patients, the wonderful care and treatment. When Dylan finished speaking, cheers filled the air. He smiled as the crowd sang him happy birthday. Only a few people that day, including his parents and his sister, Megan, knew about the overwhelming news he had just received.
Dylan's cancer had returned. He walked that day knowing he had only months to live. On June 8, 2010, Dylan lost his battle.
"Dylan arrived at St. Jude thinking he was bigger and stronger than everyone, and when he saw the little kids going through treatment, he said they motivated him," Debbie said. "His love for St. Jude was enormous. He wanted a cure to be found. He didn't want any other children to have to go through what he did."
You can help support the children of St. Jude and honor the memory of patients like Dylan by signing up for a Give thanks. Walk. in your community. The walk is a fun 5k the whole family can participate in. More than 60 communities will hold walks November 20, 2010, to raise money and awareness for St. Jude. Visit the Give thanks. Walk. website today to find a walk in your community and help St. Jude in its search for a cure to childhood cancer.