This month we celebrate the first of our 2019 CCA Heroes, Shaun. Shaun and his family visited the CCA office to take part in his official CCA Hero photoshoot just weeks before he died. We are deeply saddened by his death, but incredibly grateful to have captured his vibrant spirit for the world to see.
This is the story of Shaun. Son of Katiann, Brother of Jeremiah. Hero to CCA.
Shaun’s silly antics created constant laughter. He loved playing with trains, construction vehicles, LEGOs, and dinosaurs. But above all, he loved firefighters, perhaps because they embody many of the same qualities he was known for: bravery in the face of daunting circumstances, integrity, strength, and infinite love for family and friends.
Diagnosed with medulloblastoma at the age of four, Shaun’s treatment was rigorous and difficult, but he never once complained. In fact, his main concerns consisted of knowing when he could play with toys and when the next Amazon package would arrive at the house.
His mom, Katiann, was always impressed by his strength and ability to laugh even when he didn’t feel well. “He never complained about going to the hospital or being poked with needles. He was always making people laugh. He made the nurses laugh a lot.”
Firefighters Can Be Chemo Pals Too
Shaun’s time at the hospital was made even brighter by his Chemo Pal, Tommy. The day they were first matched, Shaun had no idea a real firefighter was about to step into his room. Their CCA match supervisor recalls the moment they met:
“The day Tommy and I arrived at the hospital, Shaun was curled up under a dinosaur blanket and refused to speak. However, as soon as he heard I had brought him a Chemo Pal who was a real-life firefighter, he slowly began to emerge from his cocoon. Then, when he saw the bag full of toys, all hesitation fell by the wayside.”
From that moment on, Shaun began to come out of his shell. On one of his better days, he went on an exclusive tour of Tommy’s fire station. Highlights included sitting in the fire engine and using a fire hose to knock down safety cones. Shaun’s visit was a highlight for Tommy as well.
“When we showed him the fire engine his face lit up and he was smiling ear to ear. He was just an awesome kid,” Tommy said. “It’s so obvious that there was no shortage of love in his life. He had to be so brave, but he was also a kid and found so much joy in playing. He had a big heart and kept in mind the core values his mother taught him, like saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’”
Shooting Hoops with the Blazers
Another of Shaun’s greatest experiences was attending Blazer games as a guest of CCA. Over the course of his treatment, he attended as many as he had the energy for and took the game very seriously. Katiann recalls the focus with which he would watch the games:
“The Blazer games were something for him to look forward to. Listening to the people cheer and the atmosphere put him in good spirits.”
A tour of the Trail Blazer Practice Facility with Meyers Leonard was yet another experience where Shaun was in his element. Despite needing a walker, he was out on the court with the rest of the kids dribbling and showing off his skills.
Memories New and Old
With so much uncertainty surrounding Shaun’s health, creating memories was Katiann’s top priority. CCA helped make that easier by matching the family with a sponsor during Joy for the Holidays, CCA’s holiday support program.
Holiday gifts for each member of the family were delivered straight to their home. For Katiann, it was a relief to know she could focus on creating beautiful memories. “It was hard trying to make Christmas special for my kids without having a job. CCA made that worry go away and we are forever thankful.”
The family was also scheduled to visit the Caring Cabin. Sadly, Shaun died before their visit, but in keeping with their tradition of making memories, Katiann and Jeremiah, visited the Caring Cabin to celebrate Shaun’s life.