HOPE — Family and friends mourning the death of a 2-year-old Hope boy will honor his memory by raising money to help other children in their fight against leukemia.
Chase Galbraith died Dec. 21 at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis after trying to beat acute myeloid leukemia, which aggressively attacks children and is diagnosed in about 500 of them nationally each year.
He had been too weak to receive a potentially lifesaving bone marrow transplant from his 5-year-old brother, Tristian.
Organizers are sponsoring Saturday’s Chillin’ for Chase’s Comrades, with a walk and a chicken noodle dinner. Donations will be directed toward Riley research to help other young leukemia patients and to find a cure.
The walk will be from 1 to 4 p.m., with the dinner from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hauser High School cafeteria and fieldhouse.
At Chase’s funeral, parents and friends of other patients fighting the same disease at Riley approached the family and talked about Chase’s smile and his efforts to cheer them up when he was so sick himself. From that outpouring of remembrance, family and friends decided to honor that spirit by making a difference for someone else’s child.
Nate Riley, 17, a senior at Columbus East High School, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2012 and met Chase while going through a particularly rough chemotherapy cycle at Riley, according to his stepmother Jamie Young.
“When you’re at Riley, everyone is going through the same thing,” she said.
The family had joined the “Chase Strong” website. They ran into the Galbraith family in the Riley cafeteria, identifying them by their “Chase Strong” T-shirts.
After a rough round of chemo that resulted in days spent in intensive care, Nate was isolated in his room and could not have visitors. Since Chase couldn’t go into Nate’s room, the youngster made a point to stop by and knock on Nate’s window each day, giving the teenager a smile.
Last year on Valentine’s Day, Chase taped a Spider-Man valentine to Nate’s door, something the family has kept.
“No matter how bad you were feeling, Chase’s smile was amazing,” Young said. “To see this child, you couldn’t have a bad day.”
Nate is now home, in remission, and finishing his high school studies. He is looking forward to attending Indiana University.
The disease’s aggressive nature means it’s important to detect it early and begin treatment, something that happened in Nate’s case, Young said.
“We just keep thinking Chase will be the reason there is a cure,” Young said, who still fights back tears when talking about the youngster. “Chase will not have died in vain,” she said.