Friday, April 8, 2011

Love Thy Neighbor

The following is the tale of a remarkable little boy. Yet it is not really about his story, it is the story around his story. Trey Love (yes, that's his real name) is a 4 year old boy who is fighting terminal cancer. He had been in remission for 2 years, but three weeks ago his neuroblastoma came back. Until March 20th, not many people knew who he was. He had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2008 but most recently was living the typical 4 year old life, playing with friends and rooting for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team.

On March 20th he was rushed into surgery when doctors determined that his cancer had returned. Doctors estimated he had just weeks to live. That day, three of Trey's mom's friends decided to hold a candlelight vigil later that night at the local park to support the Love family. Through the power of the Internet and Facebook, a large crowd of people gathered to sing songs and sign a get-well card for Trey. Hundreds more sent emails saying they could not attend but would pray for Trey on their own.

To say the Team Trey movement then snowballed would be an understatement. Within a week, his Facebook page had 7000 supporters. Within a week a second vigil was planned at the family's church. Within a week many local businesses offered "Trey" nights where a portion of their proceeds would go to the Love family. The family had expressed a wish to let Trey see the castle at Disney World one last time, so the community rallied to provide support for this trip and for Mike and Missy, Trey's parents, who took leaves from their jobs in order to spend every minute with their son at Children's Hospital.

Within a week, the local middle school students had organized a lunchtime bake sale. The local K-Mart allowed a community wide bake sale to take place in its parking lot. Individual middle school students created flyers announcing all the businesses supporting Trey and canvassed neighborhoods to urge people to patronize those generous shops. They came home with hundreds of dollars in unsolicited donations, simply because people felt moved by Trey's story.

The local high school, upon learning that Trey loved the Phillies, decided to have "Trey Day" where students were invited to wear Phillies shirts and donations were collected. In addition, several students planned a benefit concert to be held within a week, featuring local student musical acts. The admission fee will go to the Love family as well as proceeds from T-shirts that the kids are creating.

The local elementary school held a "hair-raising" fundraiser for Trey. Kids could color or spike their hair for the day in exchange for a donation. Over $3000 was raised in one day from the effort.

This week it was announced that more than enough money had been raised to take Trey to Disney World and support his parents while he is hospitalized. Trey's Facebook followers increased exponentially, to over 22,000 in just 3 weeks. (The population of his hometown is only 16,000 people, to put that in perspective.)

Trey's story echoes the old Stone Soup fable. In Stone Soup, visitors invite local villagers to help them with their meal of stone soup - a pot of water over the fire to which they have added a clean stone. "If only we had some herbs to flavor our soup," the visitors sigh. One townsperson runs home to gather some of her leftover herbs. This continues with many different villagers contributing bits and scraps from their homes. Pretty soon the whole town is enjoying a wonderful, flavorful soup.

Trey's community was able to raise a large amount of money and an even greater amount of awareness of his plight, in an incredibly short time and with no real sacrifice on anyone's part. The whole here is indeed greater than the sum of the parts.

Trey's story also calls to mind that of Alex Scott, another neuroblastoma patient. Before she died of the disease, she set up a lemonade stand in front of her house to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Today Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation has raised over $40 million for cancer research. One hopes that these stories exist all over, wherever there is a family in need. Fighting back against awful circumstances with one cup of lemonade, one brownie, one T-shirt, one rally, one candle, one ice cream cone. One can only hope that for every unfathomable situation, there is a similar story around the story.

Trey's story as featured on the local news:
ABC Local

Read more about Trey's story:
Trey's Foundation


  1. Yet another demonstration (two, in fact), that it takes a village--but at the same time, that's all it takes. Small gestures of good will do add up.

  2. Dear Raining Acorns,
    What a deeply profound a written with such heartfelt tenderness.
    The story within the story is testimony that humanity can be inspired by the bravery of a little boy. Indeed, it displays mankind at its most sincere, caring and compassionate.
    A truly touching story that resonates within my heart.
    In peace, respect and kindness, Gary.

  3. Dear Wide Open Spaces,
    thank you for that impressing story! One person alone might feel overwhelmed and hopeless - a group (or thousands as in the case of FB) are able to do something. And it is good to know that when one sometimes think: well, that little I can give - what will that help - together with others it makes all the difference. I hope that for Japan too.

  4. These are always such heart-warming tales when they happen. It is good that people rally round for just one little boy and his parents.

    I wish that something could be done to stop all children suffering, that this overwhelming kindness could be extended to all children and not just those very few who become known.

  5. This is a great example of how social media can help people to connect in wonderful ways. Thank you for spreading the good news in such positive style!

  6. This is such a wonderful story. Sometimes when I write satire, I get lost in cynicism. Thanks for this reminder on the positive outcomes of working together to help others.


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