To Alix, with love from friends
Six-year-old Alix Draves is fighting a high-stakes personal war. It is called Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of cancer that orginates in the white blood cells.
Last Thursday, he discovered in no uncertain terms that he is not fighting that war alone. Hundreds of his classmates at Wellington Elementary School - aptly dubbed the Wellington Warriors - presented him with gifts they amassed during a month of fund-raising in February.
At a whole-school assembly, they gave him an iPod of his own, so he can keep himself entertained and educated until he can come back to school. And they gave him a check for $3,202.24 to help with the expenses of fighting the disease.
This was all money collected patiently in coins and small bills. Kids who gave a dollar got to wear a hat in school, which was a status symbol worth buying. One family even collected $100 worth of aluminum cans and donated funds to the cause.
Alix was joined on stage by his grandparents and guardians Karen Fausett and Dennis Parry to receive the gifts. Before that, though, he answered some questions in an interview from teacher Jennifer Prince.
Among the things students learned was that he has to wear surgical mask whenever he is around people or he could get sick. (The chemotherapy treatment depresses his immune system, so he has little resistance to disease. A common cold could be life-threatening, his grandfather explained.)
He also can't eat chocolate for a week or so after his chemo treatments, so he makes sure to eat it before he goes to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake.
While Alix and the students took the interview and the gift presentations in stride, among the adults in the audience there were few - if any - dry eyes.