Fairfield Twp. first made Kyler Bradley an honorary fire chief just days after he was diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor.
Then they made him an honorary police chief.
Now this Thursday, and every May 17 hereafter, will be known as “Kyler Bradley (DIPG) National Awareness Day” in the township.
Kyler Bradley died on April 12, 2016, from diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a childhood brain cancer commonly known as DIPG. It was just six months after being diagnosed with the incurable cancer. And in that 180 days his story brought a community closer together as they prayed and hoped for his life to be saved.
“This is Kyler’s hometown. This is his township. This is where he was born and raised,” said Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer, who read the proclamation at the trustees’ May 9 meeting before presenting it to the Bradley family.
Brain and spinal cord tumors are the second-most common cancers in children, according to the American Cancer Society. But DIPG, a brain stem tumor, is rare as between 200 to 400 children are annually diagnosed with the disease. They are typically between 4 and 11 years old. The cancer attacks a child’s brain stem at the base of the brain and is aggressive. Those children diagnosed are given on average six months to live.
The community and township rallied around Kyler and the Bradleys. The community held a Halloween street party and fundraiser in October 2015 and the township made Kyler both an honorary fire and police chief. Hartkemeyer said “it only seems right and proper” to recognize Kyler and raise awareness of the fatal disease.
“Kyler is a part of our community,” Hartkemeyer said. “Kyler fought so bravely and so hard against this disease … he’s one of ours, he’s on our team.”
“You guys are absolutely incredible and amazing,” said Rebecca Bradley, Kyler’s mother. “The support we still get from the community — this is his hometown, this is where he belongs, and you’ve never forgotten him. It’s been two years since he’s passed and you guys are our family. This is where we call home, and it will always be home.”
She went on to plead the community for more financial support and awareness for the disease.
“It needs funding, it needs awareness,” she said.
Earlier this year, Ohio Sen. Bill Coley, R-Liberty Twp., worked to get a specialty “EndDIPG” license plate created for Ohioan drivers with a cartoon likeness of Kyler.