Community comes together for boy’s holiday wish

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

THOMAS RADLEY, 13, plays Bingo while staying at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Radley is undergoing chemotherapy, and a spaghetti feed and silent auction fundraiser is set for Dec. 17. Contributed photo

After 13-year-old Thomas Radley joined the Freedom Football’s Wolverine team in August, he made comments about his back hurting. Little did anyone know that he would soon be rushed off to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland just a few weeks before Christmas.
According to family friend Samantha Hergenroeder, when Radley went to Lebanon doctors, they found cancer cells in his bloodwork, and an oncologist at Doernbecher diagnosed him with metastatic alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer that often occurs in places such as arms, legs and chest. He began chemotherapy on Dec. 8.
“He’s just one of the sweetest, kindest kids you’ll ever meet,” said Coach Brandon Train.
When Train heard the family needed a tree, he organized a holiday decorating event. As many as 15 to 20 football team members and their parents showed up at his home on Dec. 8 with hundreds of lights and yard décor so that Radley could have his wish to be home for a lighted Christmas, Hergenroeder said.
“Right now we’re just trying to focus on Thomas having the happiest time he can right now, coming home to all the Christmas lights,” she said.
A couple months ago, Radley complained about pain in his back. Doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with him on his first visit, said Eddie Newell, boyfriend of Radley’s mom, Jolene Burch. Another visit to the hospital led to tests that revealed the diagnosis.
“It was his back and one of his knees,” football teammate Jamey Train said. “He played the whole season like that, but we didn’t know about it.”

Jamey Train, left, and Ryker Schutzman hang ornaments on a tree for their friend Thomas Radley.

“He was pretty strong to keep going, though. I give him big props for that,” fellow teammate Ryker Schutzman added.
Meanwhile, his parents, Casey Radley and Burch, are dealing with the emotional aspects and hospital details.
Freedom Football parents jumped into action to help the family with Christmas plans and the financial costs of driving back and forth to the hospital. A spaghetti feed and silent auction has been scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, at Community Bible Church, 2600 Stoltz Hill Rd.
“I’m surprised how much support there is in our little community,” Newell said.