UPDATE: Lance's Lift
Cedar Park High School's cafeteria: site of a celebration for folks to pick their pick-me-up. The balloons give a boost, and the cake sweetens things, too.
But the largest lift is provided by the guest of honor, Lance White, a teenager who knows all about the gift of giving.
We first met Lance last November, a little more than a year removed from his diagnosis of T Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The ninth grader is now in remission, but the chemotherapy and spinal taps to help him stay there, have his football and baseball careers on hold. And there are no holds barred when it comes to his fellow Timberwolves showing their support.
"What we're doing here is not just about athletics," said Cedar Park head football coach Carl Abseck. "It's not just about football, it's about people."
On their way to an undefeated season and state title, the Cedar Park varsity football team, led by Coach Abseck, took Lance under its wing. A year earlier, the very first get-well poster White received in the hospital was from his eighth grade coaches and teammates. This is the video he sent them in response.
"When I first found out I had cancer, I just wanted to die," Lance admitted. "I just wanted to curl up on the floor and just lay there. But as soon as that first poster came in, I remembered I have a whole big family back in Austin for me."
But that was not the only emotional impact Lance experienced during his stay at Children's Medical Center, Dallas.
"The younger kids, the toddlers, the babies," Lance remembered. "It was just cries and screams."
Hearing and seeing kids like himself, and those even younger, struggle through cancer treatments impacted Lance so much - he wanted to do something. Rather, he wished to do something.
"This is the first time in our chapter when a child has chosen to do that," Katherin Brewer, President & CEO of Make-A-Wish Central & South Texas explained.
Referred to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Lance could have received just about anything. But instead of meeting a celebrity or going on the trip of a lifetime, for his wish, White wanted to start his own foundation - one that would help kids battling cancer.
"I hope I can help out as many families as I can," Lance explained.
Saturday in Cedar Park, with cake, balloons and $5,000 from Make-A-Wish, the Lift Brigade, providing support for pediatric cancer patients and their families, was launched.
"He has set not only himself - but millions of kids - up for happiness," Brewer noted.
"Any parents going through their kid being diagnosed with cancer: just believe and pray and hope," White shared.
Cancer took Lance out of school, took away his favorite sports and took his hair. Yet, when gifted the chance to get something back after Leukemia stole so much from him, Lance chose to give, rather than receive. And he's lifting-up many along the way.
To learn more about/support Lift Brigade, click HERE