Six months ago, Brandon Thomas was fresh off his graduation from , riding high on his accomplishments in sports and carrying a reputation as a smart young man with unshakable drive.
But when Thomas got sick and had his tonsils removed just after Christmas, his family didn’t expect what came next: A biopsy report revealed that 18-year-old Brandon has Burkitt’s Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Community members–including parents whose children have grown up with Thomas–have come together to organize a fundraiser to help pay for the Thomas family’s mounting health care bills.
The fundraiser will be held Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 6 p.m. at , located at 32663 Park Street in west Dearborn.
Chris Phillips, the fundraiser’s main organizer, is also one of Thomas’ biggest fans.
“I’ve watched Brandon grow up,” said Phillips, whose son was on the Edsel Ford swim team with Thomas. “At graduation last year, I thought I’d never see him again. Unfortunately this is reason we’re seeing each other again.”
“As soon as I heard this was happening,” he added, “I wanted to help.”
The fundraiser will include a tin can raffle, bake sale, pizza donated by the and space donated by O’Kelly’s. Red Wings tickets, a swim cap owned by Michael Phelps and a 2012 Dearborn Family Pool Tag will be among items to be raffled off.
In the past two weeks, the community has rallied around the Thomas family, showing just how many lives Brandon has touched.
Phillips attributes it to the teen’s upbeat personality, despite challenges he has faced.
Thomas was diagnosed several years ago with a fine motor skill disorder that meant he needed extra time to finish tests and papers in school. Regardless, he kept his grades up while staying active in sports and band at Edsel Ford. He also held a summer job as a lifeguard at his local pool.
After graduation, Thomas enrolled at on a scholarship, with plans to eventually transfer to the or Wayne State University.
Thomas told the Dearborn Times Herald, which did a story on him last May for beating the odds to become a successful graduate, that he hoped to become a health inspector or a park ranger.
“Brandon’s been a really motivated kid who’s had a lot of challenges,” Phillips said. “He’s just one of those kids where no matter what problems he faces, he seems not just to overcome them, but to excel.”
Now, Thomas faces his biggest challenge yet.
An aggressive form of cancer, Burkitt’s Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma is fast growing and rare. It’s typically treatable, but requires rigorous treatment. Thomas’ cancer was caught early, which means his chances of beating it are high.
But as Thomas faces a grueling six months of intensive chemotherapy, his family and friends know that his ability to defeat the obstacles will shine through yet again–with a little help from those who love him.
Those who cannot attend, but wish to make a donation, should visit the Taking Care of Brandon website.