Decorating the trees on 360 for the holidays has been an annual tradition for years. This holiday season a local group is making a tree extra special by decorating it with the names of children battling cancer, those who've survived, and those now considered angels.
The tree is going to be covered in gold, the color for childhood cancer awareness. It was thought up by a woman who wanted to honor her son and every other child who lost their battle with cancer.
Childhood cancer advocate Janet Pollock wishes Christmas came more often than once a year. Even thogh it’s November, the holiday candles are lit and the ornaments hung with care.
The spirit of Christmas reminds Janet of her son Luke.
“Luke loved Christmas,” Janet says. “All he could think about was decorating for Christmas and the blow up inflatables that go up in your yard.”
Janet says Luke would always offer to put up decorations for his neighbors. It was a tradition that was cut short at just 10 years old.
Luke started having some vision problems. The optometrist prescribed glasses but things got worse. So Janet took Luke to the emergency room where he was rushed to get a CAT scan.
“They came back and told us there was a large mass in his brain stem and they also told us that it was inoperable and that there was no cure,” Janet says.
Luke had a DIPG tumor. Doctors gave him nine to 12 months to live. He fought for nine and a half.
Since then, Janet has been fighting to get more awareness and funding for childhood cancers.
“No parent ever wants to hear the words, your child has cancer," Janet says.
Janet paired up with Go Gold Global founder Sarah Rich. The group works to spread awareness of these cancers and wants to shine a light on the lack of funding and research.
Together the two decided to decorate a Christmas tree on 360 with only gold ornaments with the name of children affected by cancer written on them.
Rich says, “Every one of these ornaments represents a child's life. It represents what this family went through. It means a lot. It’s not just an ornament that we are hanging on a tree. It represents their fight.”
People have submitted children's names through their Facebook event. That list is now up to 800 names from all across the world. All fighters, survivors and angels.
No matter how long it takes, Rich says all the names will be displayed for all to see.
“It's very emotional to write all these names. This life on a gold ball and everything they represent. So to hear people thank us for this, it's our honor to be able to be allowed to honor their child,” Rich says.
Something Janet feels is very important.
“He just loved life, just a happy loving boy, and so I try to carry on the Luke spirit and keep his legacy alive,” Janet says.
Janet's grief for the loss of her son has turned into a call for action. She wishes no parent would have to feel what she feels. But she does offer words of wisdom for those who are still fortunate enough to have their children by their side.
“Cherish every minute. Say yes when you would normally say no. Do the small things that are important to kids,” Janet says.
If you'd like to join them Sunday November 22 they're meeting at the Midway Food Truck Park on 360 at 1:00 p.m. You can get more information here.
Janet also has a toy drive planned. While Luke was hospitalized, he said he wanted to dress up as Santa and hand out toys to the kids so she started a toy drive to honor his wish. You can get more information about the toy drive here.