Ambassador Alan’s favorite holiday was Halloween because he loved trick-or-treating and exploring the neighborhood. For his last Halloween, Alan was confined to a wheelchair and couldn’t take part in the traditional neighborhood celebration, so his family did something extra special. His mom, Judy, shares these photos and memories.These photos were taken at Morgan’s Wonderland on October 31, 2012. Morgan’s Wonderland has a Halloween event called “More Delightful Than Frightful” and it was one of Alan’s most favorite places.
Ambassador Alan’s mom, Judy, shares why this time of year is particularly difficult — and why it’s fueling her passion to fight for more childhood cancer research funding.
Photo by S.L. Smith Photography.
One year ago today, childhood cancer claimed Ambassador Alan’s life. His parents, Harold and Judy, reflect on his journey and what this day means to them.
Alan was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma in his hip at 17 months old.
Maybe we are special. But if we are, it is because you — our friends, our family, our community — have made us that way.
Dealing with childhood cancer has sometimes been described as facing the dragon. The thing is, though, it is rarely possible to take on the dragon alone. Usually, you want an army at your side. They’re there to fight with you, to help you up when you fall, to take up the fight when you need to rest. And what we have seen in our army of supporters, we have also seen when we look in the mirror. We know that if you had to, you would rise to the occasion as we had to, because we saw it in how you rose to help us.
They called him Mr. Cheeks for the frequent, easy smiles that stretched across his face. Alan was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma in his hip at 17 months old, but for the five years he graced this earth, Alan was pure joy. He was such an active, engaged child that it was hard to keep him occupied during long hospital stays. “Alan was unstoppable,” his mom says. He learned to walk three times in his short life: as a toddler, as his hip recovered from the tumor damage, and again after having his hip removed.
In late 2009, Patrick McCarrick, long-time St. Baldrick’s volunteer and shavee, decided to do something that would inspire people to join him in the fight to conquer childhood cancers. He established Climb for Five (C45) – a team with a mission to summit the highest peaks on each of the continents while raising funds and awareness for life-saving childhood cancer research. Since then, the C45 Team has climbed Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro in 2010 and Washington state’s Mount Rainier in 2011.
In March 2010 my family attended our first St. Baldrick’s event at Osborn Hill Elementary School. The event was being held in honor of my son, Teddy, who was in the middle of his battle against cancer. Friends, family, classmates and neighbors all came together that night.
And for the first time since Teddy lost his hair from treatment, he took off his red hooded sweatshirt (which he wore constantly), because, as he said, “I’m not the only bald person here anymore.”