Thousands say goodbye to boy, 10, who died from incurable cancer

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Rebecca Bradley on Saturday did the hardest thing she's ever had to do: bury her 10-year-old son.

Kyler Bradley, who was diagnosed with an incurable cancer known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG, died Tuesday evening at his Fairfield Township home with hundreds gathered outside praying for him and supporting his family. He was laid to rest Saturday at Rose Hill Cemetery in Fairfield Township.

“To bury a child is unimaginable, unthinkable and unbearable,” Bradley said during the funeral service at Princeton Pike Church of God. “I have loved him from the moment I laid eyes on him to when he died in my arms. We locked eyes and we never let go until his last breath.”

Thousands of people from across around the region came to say goodbye to Kyler, the boy who was named an honorary Fairfield Township fire chief in October, and support the Bradley family – parents Anthony Kirk and Rebecca, and older teenage brother Kirk.

Kyler had two wishes in life, to be famous and bring people together because he loved life and hardly ever met a stranger.

Both happened.

The support Kyler received since being diagnosed with DIPG in October wasn't just from Bradley's family, friends and neighbors, nor was it just from those in Fairfield Township or Butler County. He has been an inspiration to people worldwide.

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Those who knew Kyler, either intimately or just in the last six months, have said he is a hero, which is also what BridgeWater Church pastor, the Rev. Drew Wilkerson, said of the 10-year-old blue-eyed, freckle-faced boy. Part of his legacy, he said, is KylerStrong.

The same cancer that struck former Mount St. Joseph University basketball player Lauren Hill devastated Kyler’s body in a short period of time. He became wheelchair-bound in less than 10 days from his diagnosis as the tumor attacked his brain stems, weakening his nervous system’s functions. Overtime he became bloated and needed help breathing with a ventilator.

Kyler was known as a spit-fire, a camera-ham, energetic boy who loved monster trucks, the outdoors “and anything that would allow him to get dirty,” Wilkerson said during the near 90-minute funeral service.

And he may have only been 10 years old, but Wilkerson said, “He’s crammed more into 10 years than a lot of people can cram into 100.”

“They brought that little boy into our life and he did amazing things,” said Tracy Schaeper, one of Kirk’s co-workers at the Ford Motor Co.

She said it was “very cool” to see how Kyler rallied the community by his public fight of DIPG. And he did a lot more for people “without even realizing it,” she said.

He also reminded the community of gratefulness, said Stan Budke, another of Kirk’s co-workers.

“You appreciate what you have for the short time you get it,” he said.

The community prayed for a miracle for Kyler in hopes that the tumor in his brain would disappear. That miraculous physical cure people prayed for didn’t happen, but Wilkerson said many miracles did happen because of faith of Kyler, the Bradleys and the community.

“The miracle was his healing in heaven, total healing, but the miracle was also exactly what he wanted — to bring people closer to God and to bring people closer to one another. What more can you ask? That’s a legacy,” he said.

Rebecca said her son “had a good life” and “he loved with everything he had, he loved everybody in it.” And while Kyler won’t physically be with them, he hasn’t left them.

“It is my honor to share Kyler with the world,” she said. “He wanted to become famous and I was bound and determined to do whatever that little boy wanted.”

HOW TO HELP:

GoFundMe: This fundraising account has generated more than $111,200 in donations made by more than 2,400 people as of Saturday afternoon. To donate to help the Bradley family, visit www.gofundme.com/kylerbradley.

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