Today is Nathan Norman's 5th birthday, a milestone he and his family have been focused on all year – truly a gift for the Virginia boy, stricken with terminal brain cancer just before his first birthday.
Nathan's tumultuous journey is chronicled on CaringBridge, a site used by families to keep others informed during medical treatment. You can see lots more via his Facebook page, and view a short YouTube video, which is uploaded with this story, about Nathan's journey.
The New Hampshire connection came a few weeks ago, when word of Nathan's one Christmas wish – for Christmas cards from local police, firefighters and EMTs – circulated through the police grapevine and reached New Hampshire, where Nashua Police Department Detectives James Stone and Daniel Ostler joined the contingency from New England, traveling on Dec. 19 to Rustburg, Va. with 200 fellow officers to hand-deliver cards, gifts and police emblems to Nathan.
The caravan of more than 90 cruisers departed from Burlington Mass., on Wednesday morning and made the 10 ½-hour trip to Rustburg, VA. [See courtesy photos uploaded here of Detectives Stone and Ostler with the family.]
The officers then met with Nathan and his family at Liberty University on Thursday, December 20, 2012 and presented Nathan with the Christmas cards and other gifts and memorabilia that had been collected by the various law enforcement agencies.
Nathan was diagnosed on Jan. 20, 2009 with a low grade astrocytoma (brain cancer.)
Nathan underwent surgery to remove the brain tumor, but the tumor’s “tentacles” had grown into the brain, making it impossible to remove it all. Nathan has also endured aggressive chemotherapy.
After a particularly grueling treatment in September, Nathan asked his father to hang the Christmas lights.
“I think the lights will make me feel better,” he said.
Nathan’s parents approved of the idea. They believed that it was appropriate to fill their home with the elements of Christmas – love, hope, peace, and joy – because it is those same elements that have sustained them throughout Nathan’s ordeal.
Neighbors followed their lead. They also hung Christmas decorations and sent early greeting cards.
Nathan had only one Christmas wish – to receive Christmas cards from his heroes: officers and firefighters. Sgt. Robert Carpentieri learned of this request when he received an email from a mutual friend. As a Public Information Officer with the Virginia State Patrol, he helped to spread the word.
“Most of us chose this profession out of a desire to help people,” Carpentieri said. “This is simply an opportunity to brighten a child’s day, and to let him know that he has our love and support. He may think of us as heroes, but to us, he is a hero, because he has endured so much, and yet he has such a positive attitude”.
The family has put the future into perspective. Every day is a leap of faith.
“Nathan will be healed one way or another, Dawn said. “The ultimate healing is in heaven. Nathan is not a victim. Whether God chooses to heal him on earth or in heaven, Nathan wins.”
You may send cards (Christmas, Birthday or New Year's) to:
81 Dunivan Dr
Rustburg, VA 24588.
Some information for this story was gathered from Law Enforcement Today.