Boy meets monster truck driverPublished 7:21pm Saturday, April 6, 2013
Editor’s note: This is another in a series of stories leading up to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life on May 17.
A meeting between a young cancer patient and his dream career happened in Suffolk recently.
Monster truck driver Steven Wright hosted 4-year-old Ethaniel “EJ” DeJesus and his mother, Michelle DeJesus. They were connected by the Roc Solid Foundation’s “When I Grow Up” program, which introduces children with cancer to professionals in their careers of choice.
EJ was diagnosed with kidney cancer when he was 2 years old. Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters has been treating him through surgery, which removed his right kidney and a ligament from his left kidney, and through chemotherapy five days a week.
The Roc Solid Foundation surprised EJ with a playset through its Play It Forward program. The foundation, founded by pediatric cancer survivor Eric Newman, builds hope for children battling cancer through a variety of programs, including Play It Forward and When I Grow Up.
After giving the playset, the foundation found out EJ wants to be a monster truck driver when he grows up.
“He’s obsessed with monster trucks,” Michelle DeJesus said recently, adding that EJ’s favorite monster truck is Gravedigger. She hopes to be able to take him to a monster truck show this summer.
The foundation set up with monster truck driver Steven Wright to meet EJ in Suffolk.
“He got to ride, and he had a blast,” DeJesus said. “(Wright) was awesome, and the monster truck was awesome.”
EJ also got his own monster truck T-shirt and poster, DeJesus said.
The Roc Solid Foundation has many other programs, including a “Roc Solid Ready Bag” for families that must endure the unexpected hospital stays that often come with a cancer diagnosis and a Re: Mission/Remodel program, which provides playset alternatives for children who cannot have a playset, for example if they live in an apartment. The program might include purchasing a new bicycle or redecorating a bedroom.
For more information on the Roc Solid Foundation, visit www.rocsolidfoundation.org.
To help fight childhood cancer and other forms of cancer, participate in the Relay for Life on May 17 at Bennett’s Creek Park. For more information, visit www.relay.org/suffolkva.