Friends, family and strangers are helping out a 10-year-old freckled-face boy and his family as he battles with a terminal brain tumor.
Hundreds of people attended the Halloween fundraiser for Kyler Bradley, the fifth-grader at Fairfield Intermediate School diagnosed on Oct. 16 with the inoperable brain cancer diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, commonly known as DIPG.
This is the same pediatric cancer that struck Mount St. Joseph basketball player Lauren Hill, who died in April at 19 years old after battling the disease.
The cancer has 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. The right side of his body is immobile.
When he was at Children’s Medical Center in Cincinnati for radiation treatments earlier this week, he went into respiratory arrest and was admitted to the hospital’s ICU. Kyler’s mother, Rebecca, told the Journal-News that her youngest son is “stable and responsive but still on ventilation.”
“We are not sure how long but guessing we will be here through next week in ICU. Or maybe longer,” she said.
And though the cancer has brought this family, which also includes his father Anthony Kirk, and 13-year-old brother Kirk, closer together, his story of bravery has rallied more than just the people in their neighborhood.
“Fairfield Twp. and the Greater Cincinnati area, and for that matter the world, they care about this little boy,” said Fairfield Twp. Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer. “It’s gone viral.”
The email account 4KylerBradley@gmail.com, where people can request T-shirts and send the family messages, has received thoughts and prayers from people as far as England and France.
”He just turned 10 and suddenly this happened. Anyone with a child or anyone with a heart can empathize with this brave little boy and his family,” said Hartkemeyer.
And Rebecca Bradley said words can’t express the gratitude.
“We are amazed at the love and support we have received from a community that loves our child as much as we do,” she said.
From just a sampling of the Facebook support and fundraising efforts, tens of thousands of dollars have been raised for the family.
The GoFundMe account for Kyler has exceeded $76,700 from donations made by more than 1,800 people as of Friday afternoon . Scores of “Kyler Strong” T-shirts have been sold. The shirts can be picked up from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairfield Twp. Fire Department on Morris Road.
Several local restaurants are donating portions of their sale proceeds to the Bradleys, including Buffalo Wild Wings from 4 to 9 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Bridgewater Falls, West Chester Twp., Oxford, Blue Ash and Harper Station (Cincinnati) locations.
“It’s in our community and the little guy has touched all of our hearts,” said Springdale Beef O’Brady’s manager Andrea Keener, whose restaurant held a fundraiser for the family Friday.
Local author Sarah Curry Rathel will be helping the Bradleys when she visits Kyler’s school, Fairfield Intermediate School, next week. Ninety percent of proceeds from purchases of her book will go to the family. The other 10 percent will go to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Cincinnati.
Local students throughout Butler County are also rallying around Kyler.
Students in Erin Schneider’s junior English class at Lakota East High School last week created 27 cards for Kyler as part of a presentation that required them to come up with an activity connected to and able to enhance the meaning of poem “Thanatopsis” by William Cullen Bryant, a work that deals with celebrating life and not fearing death.
The activity inspired at least 50 more of her students to do the same, Schneider said.
“I really wanted to share something positive with them and just try to encourage them to be empathetic to other people,” she said. “I think it’s so easy to get so consumed in our lives sometimes, myself included, that we don’t think about people who are really struggling with something in life. I think it’s just kind of good to keep that perspective.”