Nikki Porter and her family sat in weary relief in the Brown-Lupton University Union on Sunday, Dec. 6.
“Really, for us, it’s the end of our journey,” Porter said. “Our son got diagnosed in July, and we recently just got the news that he beat it.”
The “it” that Porter is referring to is cancer. Her son, Denver, was one of 17 patients at Cook’s Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth that were invited to the BLUU auditorium for a Christmas party by Alpha Epsilon Delta, the health pre-professional honor society, and Heroes for Children, an organization dedicated to providing financial relief for families battling childhood cancer.
For AED vice president of social events Mia Eriksson, who coordinated the event on her organization’s side, stories like the Porters’ are the reason why she feels compelled to serve.
“We love doing this,” Eriksson said. “Seeing the kids happy…that’s amazing.”
AED has partnered with Heroes for Children for several years running now to put on the event, which also draws funding from the TCU Student Government Association and Cook Children’s.
Larissa Linton, the co-founder and executive director of Heroes for Children, said that the party is designed to put a smile on the faces of both the children and their parents.
“With a childhood cancer diagnosis comes a financial struggle,” Linton said. “Just walking around the room today talking to the families, they’re all going through different struggles.
“This party here today is not just for the child with cancer, it’s for the whole family. Our goal is to see the smiles and create a little bit of ease and make this a happy holiday season for them despite what they’re going through.”
The smiles came from many different places. Chords for Kids provided a holiday soundtrack to the event, while guest appearances by Santa Claus and SuperFrog were big hits with the children.
Nothing gets a child excited for the holiday season like presents, however, and thanks to volunteers like Nakaisha Davis, who sponsored a family through Heroes for Children, there were plenty of gifts to go around.
“We bought [a family] presents, and we are contributing to them, because the daughter is sick, and the family is having hard times,” Davis said. “It’s very cool. Supporting in this aspect just makes me feel very good.”
Denver Porter just finished his last surgery and only has two more rounds of chemotherapy left on his recovery schedule. Nikki Porter said that this event marked one of the first times in recent months that they were able to do something as a unified family.
“It’s really nice to be able to do something as a family,” Porter said. “We don’t get that opportunity a lot.”
If Linton’s goal for Heroes for Children was to “see the smiles,” then her organization succeeded with the Porters.
“To see our kids be happy…I’m like ‘Buddy the Elf’ at Christmas,” Porter said.