TIGARD, Ore. (KOIN) — One non-profit organization helps families through the cancer diagnosis of their children and the long days and nights at the hospital that comes with it.
Robyn Johnson said Candlelighters found her family during one of their many stays at Doernbecher Children’s hospital where her son Christopher received treatment.
Christopher was being treated for stage 4 neuroblastoma. He was diagnosed in 2013 when he was just 17 months old. Despite his diagnosis, Christopher was full of life and always dancing.
His mother said he was a “very spirited little boy.”
Candlelighters provide support both to the families and their children, like making sure there’s a stocked pantry at Doernbecher hospital and organizing fun events.
Jackie Groah, who works at Candlelighters, said, “That’s what makes us unique, is that we look at whole family as a unit. We want parents, siblings, extended family to feel like they’re having the quality of life even at the worst time of life.”
One of their events is the annual Superhero 5K in Tigard. The 5K features music, snacks, kid’s obstacle courses, therapy animals and superheroes from around the community.
Christopher and his family participated in 2014, sporting big clown wigs and mustaches.
“He was really into dressing up and being silly, so we had a team of clown rainbow wigs and mustaches and we had close to 20 participants,” Robyn said.
Unfortunately, a few months after, Christopher passed away in October 2014, shortly after his 3rd birthday.
However, his family and friends will be out again this year, wearing their “Team Christopher Capes” supporting the organization that helped them so much through a dark time.
The event allows the Johnsons to honor their son as well as support other children who are battling a cancer diagnosis.
Robyn said, “Every kid that’s going through this is a hero in my mind.”