More than 200 New England police officers are currently en route to Rustburg, Va., to deliver Christmas cards to a 5-year-old boy facing a rare form of cancer.
Nathan Norman is fighting for his life. He was diagnosed with brain and spinal cancer in 2009, according to his family’s blog.
Word spread rapidly about Nathan’s battle and soon his family was receiving as many as 2,000 letters and packages a day at their home, his parents said.
Mail has taken over three rooms in their house and spilled over into his grandmother’s house and a friend’s basement.
There is more mail on the way today. The messages will be hand-delivered by officers from more than 80 police agencies, according to a statement from the Welleslely police.
“Cards4Nathan” was organized by Burlington police earlier this month, after Nathan asked his parents for Christmas cards from his heroes, police and firefighters, Wellesley police said.
At 6 a.m. today, 93 police cars departed from Burlington and began the trip to Rustburg, cards in hand, Wellesley police said.
The fleet of officers drew much attention along their journey and crossed the Hudson River using the Tappan Zee Bridge, Burlington police said in an official tweet. For the first pit stop, the swarm of officers divided into two platoons to refuel on gas.
They will arrive at Nathan’s door this afternoon.
The little boy underwent multiple surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy to fight the cancer, his parents, Dawn and Bobby, said in an e-mailed statement. During one surgery, doctors were able to remove 55 percent of Nathan’s brain tumor, but unfortunately, the tumors progressed.
He is currently taking three different chemotherapy medicines at home, which his parents hope he can handle for the full 18-month cycle.
“These are just to try and stabilize the tumors but will not get rid of the cancer,” his parents wrote on the blog. “It is just to try and buy time.”
So far, the tumors have stabilized.
“The cancer is there, just not growing for the moment,” his parents said in the e-mail.
This year, Nathan asked his family to put up Christmas decorations early, because he loves the lights. Although his family has been ready for Christmas for months now, his parents fully believe that their son will be with them on Dec. 25.
“I wanted to make sure that everyone does understand that we do not expect to lose Nathan before Christmas this year,” his mother said in the e-mail. “However we know with each end of treatment, our options are getting less and less. However, the reason we put up Christmas early this year was for Nathan to enjoy the lights.”
The Norman family is paying forward all of the good cheer coming their way.
They held their annual Christmas Bag project and delivered more than 3,000 bags of Christmas gifts to children in hospitals in Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Arizona, and even Scotland, according to the family’s blog.
Nathan and his family gave four iPads to social workers at the hospitals to use with their patients.
The young boy and his three siblings, Sarah, 9, Matthew, 7, and Tabitha, 3, have had many visitors recently.
New York firefighters visited the Norman family last week, with a box of cannoli in tow, the parents said.
Secret Service agents have visited the Norman house twice, according to the blog. During one of the visits, the agents brought robots used for security at the White House and let Nathan and his sibilings drive them around the neighborhood.
Today’s journey is being livestreamed. Or look for information on the journey on Twitter with the hashtag #Cards4Nathan.Globe correspondent Evan Allen contributed to this report. Melissa Werthmann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.