Christmas is a season of giving, and one town in Ohio gave a gift to a 12-year-old boy with a rare and terminal cancer that he would never forget.
Keith Burkett, who has rare cancer known as undifferentiated soft tissue sarcoma, was told he may not live to see Christmas.
The cancer affects his skull, shoulder, spine and liver.
And when the town discovered the unfortunate news doctors gave Keith, they collectively decided to create Christmas for Keith just a few months early.
The community sang Christmas carols, decorated their homes and dressed up to create a magical experience for Keith.
But that wasn’t all. A procession of over 100 decorated cars drove through the town.
The town’s mayor then rewarded Keith with a medal of bravery.
Taylore Woodard, 32, Keith’s mother, said the idea started when she decided to decorate their home early so Keith would not miss out on his favorite season.
“He loves Christmas. His life has been taken up with cancer and medicines and I wanted my son to enjoy one last Christmas. So at the end of September, we made our house into a winter wonderland. We put lights up, candy canes, polar bears and Santas. We had a North Pole sign and put up a banner that said, ‘Merry Christmas Kourageous Keith’.
Neighbors followed suit and also started decorating and celebrating early for Christmas.
“We noticed our next door neighbours put up some icicle lights and garlands and soon everyone was doing it.”
Keith’s Christmas started off by his friends arriving at his house dressed as Santa and elves from the North Pole.
Keith then rode a fire truck to Stow-Monroe Falls High School — where he saw all of the decorated cars along with crowds of folks who gathered in his honor.
“It was awesome. The fire truck was my favorite part because I’ve never been in one before. I got to beep the horn.”
And it continues to get better…
The day was declared officially “Keith Burkett Day” with a proclamation read in his honor on October 21st.
Keith’s first trip to the hospital was on Christmas Eve back in 2010 when he was just five years old.
The doctors found fluid in his heart which then led to him getting surgery on Christmas Day. And after that, Keith frequented the hospital but was not diagnosed with the rare cancer until March of 2012.
Keith went through surgery again to have the cancer removed, as well as had four courses of radiation and chemotherapy.
But this year in May, the cancer sadly returned each time and doctors found it had spread to his skull, left shoulder, the lower part of his spine, pelvis, and liver.
Doctors shared with Keith’s mom how he may not make it to Christmas.
“He was my firstborn. It’s hard to watch your son die and know that you’re not going to have another Christmas with him. No mother should outlive her child.”
Taylore gave up her job to spend as much time as she could with Keith after he was transferred to a hospice two months ago.
Our thoughts are with Keith and his family during this difficult time.
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