Seventeen-year-old November CCA Hero Dawson doesn’t speak much, but his giant smile says it all. This good-natured guy has had to face a number of medical challenges, including diabetes, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and pulmonary hypertension. A bad bout of pneumonia last year lead to full sepsis throughout his body and Dawson has been battling his way back ever since.
Dawson’s hospital room overlooked the Moda Center—which is where his Chemo Pal, Jim, happens to work as a liaison for the Portland Trail Blazers’ mascot, Blaze. When he feels up to it, Dawson likes to go to the games with Jim and has even helped him fire the t-shirt cannon into the crowd from center court.
“Jim’s been amazing for Dawson,” said his dad, Dave. “He’s so full of life, and his enthusiasm is contagious.”
When Dawson isn’t working hard in physical therapy, he enjoys playing card games and watching his very favorite show, Arrow. He even got to visit the set and meet one of the show’s stars, actor Stephen Amell.
While Dawson was in rehab, his parents made the decision to move in with his grandparents to help with their care, creating a house full of love and family, but limited on space. That’s where the Link Program stepped in, calling on the community to help renovate Dawson’s room, which he would now share with his sister, McKenna.
Dawson still has a long road ahead, including a possible heart and kidney transplant. But whatever the future holds, he’ll face it with the same strength and positivity that have gotten him this far. One thing is for certain: Dawson is a hero in the eyes of his family who love him very much.
“He’s gone through so much, and he keeps smiling,” said his mom, Jill. “We can all learn from him.”
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