(September 9): When 9-year-old Walker Beery died Sept. 4 after a grace-filled two-year battle with brain cancer, he bequeathed to the world a mission of his own devising: raise money to find treatments and a cure for pediatric brain cancer — and involve children in the effort.

As September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month , there’s no better time to do so than now.

Walker, a New Orleanian, was 7 years old when diagnosed on July 28, 2019, with Medulloblastoma , an aggressive cancer with a low survival rate. With a wonderfully supportive extended family, led by his parents Taylor and Angel Beery, Walker approached his various treatment regimens with remarkable spunk, patience, and a sense of infectious joyfulness that shone through all the fact-filled, superbly written updates his family regularly shared on Caring Bridge .

“Walker is working harder every day on some of the post op challenges (muscular, vision and speech),” wrote his father Taylor less than a month after diagnosis and three weeks after diagnostic surgery. “In that process he’s fallen in love with a 3 wheel bike that he can drive around the hospital halls. Nurses know that Walker’s about to come through on his bike when they hear ‘Old Town Road’ and his laugh, both at high volumes.”

his was followed by a short summation in plain English, both informative and concise, of the latest medical assessments and plans.

The setbacks, complicated almost exponentially by the coronavirus outbreak, were all recorded — but so were the many triumphs and grace notes along the way. Visits with professional athletes, to the NASA Space Center, to aquariums, and other fun occasions were detailed with a sense of wonder and gratitude….

While being treated with chemotherapy at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, an incident set Walker’s mind to work.

“During those treatments, we were in Walker’s room, and a little girl came next door and handed him a teddy bear,” his father Taylor said. “When she left the room, he was very choked up. He said his nose was burning, but it was with a happy cry because that was so nice of her. Later, he and his sister Evelyn were around the dinner table and said, ‘We want to do an event to raise money for other kids with pediatric cancer. Why don’t we do a lemonade stand?’ Well, they ended up raising like $3,000 overnight selling a few jugs of lemonade.”….

With Walker frequently asking about the effort’s progress, much of which involved enlisting children across the country to do lemonade fundraisers, sell bracelets, walk dogs, or however else they could raise money, the idea grew into a new non-profit organization. The group, “Kids Join the Fight ,” raises money for two things: research and development for treatments or cures for pediatric brain cancer specifically, with a special focus on immunotherapies and more general support for incidentals for families dealing with any sort of childhood cancer. The organization is run entirely by a volunteer board, and 100% of the proceeds go directly to the two announced causes….. [The full column is here.]

[Walker’s obituary is here.]

[In case you missed the earlier link, here is the web site for the new organization. Please donate.]


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