As the final day of school at the Chehalis School District came to a close, hundreds of people, many of them associated with the school in one way or another, descended on Penny Playground for an event to support a family that’s had a more difficult year than most.
Braylon Springer, 6, was first diagnosed with pleuropulmonary blastoma, a form of lung cancer, when she was 3 years old. After nine months of chemotherapy and two years of remission, the cancer started to make a comeback in March, prompting additional treatment in Seattle and Tacoma.
“It’s overwhelming at times, but we’re very strong in our faith and blessed by God and we just want to mainly thank God through all this, because he’s been here with us every step of the way,” said Braylon’s dad, Noah Springer.
A group of family friends organized Thursday’s event. They called it “Brody’s BBQ”, naming it after Braylon’s 8-year-old brother Brody.
Ashleigh Cox, one of the organizers, said they named the event after Brody and had him serve as something of a mascot — organizers wore T-shirts reading “Brody is Awesome” with a close-up photo of his face — so he wouldn’t feel left out in the midst of the heaps of attention sent his sister’s way.
“We wanted him to feel included and part of something,” said Cox.
About eight or nine organizers would meet weekly to plan Brody’s BBQ, and a number of businesses sponsored and donated to help make it a success.
Hot dogs were for sale, a dunk tank was set up — with Brody serving as the first person to take a turn at the seat — Kona Ice set up their truck and sold shaved ice and face painting and other concessions were also for sale. All the money raised went to support Braylon’s treatment.
Braylon’s mom, Kendall Springer, said they found that the cancer had come back on March 29. Braylon had a tumor the size of a softball that had to be removed. She then went into four rounds of intensive chemotherapy — with one round still to go — to be followed by nine months of treatment every three weeks.
“It’s been very overwhelming, just because it’s really hard for her, but … this is her last time and I think God’s really blessed us,” she said.
The family has been the center of an outpouring of community support in recent months — outreach that Kendall and Noah Springer both said has been touching and appreciated. Thorbeckes Athletic Club organized a 5K back in May that was attended by nearly 1,000 people.
“We just want to thank everyone, mainly. You know, some people we know, but we don’t know everyone, and it’s just such a blessing that everyone comes out and supports us, or supports our kids. We feel very loved and blessed,” Kendall Springer said.
“It says a lot about our small community and how great they are. … We got to Bethel Church and just everybody just really embraced us in this situation and just wanted to help,” Noah Springer said.
Businesses around Chehalis have been selling bracelets to help fund Braylon’s treatment. Those businesses are: Sister’s Quilt Shop, Thorbeckes, Simple Simon Salon, Smiths Mercantile, Dairy Dan’s, Kitchens Complete Inc., Countywide Realty, Joe’s Barber Shop and the PUD. Black Dog Pottery is the sole Centralia business selling the bracelets.
“TeamBraylon” is on Facebook and Instagram, and can be contacted at email@example.com.