Dartmouth Boys Raise Money for Brain Tumor Research With Christmas Inflatables
There's an inspiring story out of Dartmouth this week about a boy who has not only fought through brain surgery to remove a tumor but is now giving back to his doctors and local hospitals.
For the second year in a row, 16-year-old Braiden Norton and 14-year-old Carlos Jeronimo constructed a festival of holiday ornaments and inflatables, free of charge to the public. Last Saturday, December 12, Norton and Jeronimo were blessed with a picture-perfect day with little to no wind to knock down the setup.
One by one, Norton's inflatables (a collector's hobby for him) were lined up and assorted throughout a parking lot that sits on the corner of Bridge and Elm Streets in Padanaram. The property owners were more than happy to let the boys use the area, knowing that the donations that were collected would be going to a great cause.
"The weather was cooperative and the wind dyed down just in time," Norton said. "It was a more thought-out event since it was last year, and definitely better organized."
Alongside Norton is Jeronimo, his best friend since kindergarten. Together the two boys were able to collect $1,600 total in the span of three hours that will be donated to Spaulding Rehab Hospital in Boston and also Weill Cornell in New York for brain tumor research. This is the second time the kids have put together this event and were able to increase their donations by $300 this year.
The Nutcracker, Charlie Brown, and Rudolph were just a few examples of the giant blown-up holiday inflatables.
Norton’s Diagnosis at a Young Age and His Operation
"I got diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of one, had three major brain surgeries, and 80 MRIs," Norton explained. "My last major brain surgery was in New York City and they took 95 percent of the tumor out. Dr. Mark Souweidane did the procedure and afterward, I had to stay eight days in New York. After that, I went to Spaulding for rehab and they were awesome, I loved it there. Although I was there for only a month, I still wanted to give back for all the help they had given me. They're a great organization."
Friends Who Stick Together, Succeed Together
"It was a great opportunity to get involved with," Jeronimo said. "By displaying the holiday decorations and inflatables, we were able to bring joy and Christmas spirit to all who attended between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. To everyone, like Braiden, who has fought hard and kept strong and kept pushing through, know that I'm here to help support in any way that I can. That's what this is all about, people helping one another when times are tough."
As for next year, the boys plan on making a go of it for the third time, this time with a much better understanding of the setup and a solid, proven plan. It was a small, yet successful event that will resonate loudly as the donations will find their way into the hands of those who once saved Norton's life to ensure it saves another down the road with every penny given.
"I'm so thankful for all these hospitals have done for me and others," Norton said. "Words can not describe how grateful I am. They've made such an incredible impact on my life and I'm fortunate to have the opportunity and ability to be able to give it right back."