Christmas comes early for boy with tumor
For those who did not receive the memo, Santa Claus and his reindeer have already come to town this year.
Santa Claus swooped through Lawton to bring Christmas in August to a local boy who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
On Friday evening, 12-year-old Justin Rodriguez and his family celebrated Christmas with all the jingles, tinsel and twinkling lights, thanks to Pamela Thomas, a teacher at Almor West, and Joslyn Wood, a teacher at Eisenhower Elementary, who created a Christmas committee comprised of other local teachers and community members.
Rodriguez had the joy of checking "having a Christmas party" off a bucket list he created after receiving the diagnosis.
Lawton Fort Sill community members worked together like Santa's elves to transform a conference room inside Comanche County Memorial Hospital into a Winter Wonderland for Rodriguez. Those who lent a helping hand included Comanche County Memorial Hospital, Paws with Love Therapy Dogs, Word Alive Church, Unity Lawton, McDonald's, Dairy Queen, Chick-fil-A, Cherry Berry and other local organizations and individuals.
Thomas said she does not personally know Rodriguez or his family, nor has she been his teacher, but his testimony has changed her life and the lives of other Lawtonians.
"It's such a sad occasion when you look at the big picture ... but his story has touched our hearts," she said. "His story has just touched us so deeply that we wanted to do something for him."
Rodriguez, who has been described as caring and giving by his stepfather Vincente Pierre, and godmother, Melissa McGill, didn't want to keep all the gifts and goodies for himself. The Christmas committee members knew that Rodriguez has a kind heart, so they invited children with Unity Lawton to celebrate Christmas alongside Rodriguez.
Thomas said Rodriguez acted "as the Santa" by surprising the other children, who are not as privileged as other children in the community, with gift bags and stuffed animals at the party.