Metro

Christmas ornaments a tribute to boy battling cancer

Wren Maddox is selling out of Christmas ornaments in February. But these aren’t just any ornaments — they’re a tribute to Nathan Norman, a little boy waging a heroic battle against cancer.

When Nathan was 5 years old, he asked his parents to put their Christmas tree up in early September 2012, instead of December. He said that Christmas made people happy, and if people could see the decorations, maybe they wouldn’t be so sad about him being sick.

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Nathan was diagnosed with brain cancer right after his third birthday. Since then he has faced hospital visits, rounds of chemotherapy, MRIs, and intravenous needles all with bravery and a smile, said his family.

After the tree was up, he told his mother he hoped police officers, EMS workers, and firefighters would send him Christmas cards, because they are his heroes, said Maddox, a Dracut police officer.

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Maddox said when she heard this, it warmed her heart. She immediately rallied police officers and began crafting cards. By December of that year, a group of 250 officers had gathered to hand-deliver the letters to Nathan at his Lynchburg, Va., home.

They drove for 14 hours through snow and rain, but it was all worth it. When the officers arrived and surprised Nathan, Maddox said it was amazing.

“His face absolutely lit up,” said Maddox in a telephone interview. “He was so appreciative.”

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Since her initial trip, Maddox said she’s kept in touch with Nathan, who is now 7, and his family to track his progress. Recently, the Normans received some bad news. Nathan’s cancer, which has spread to his spine, has become aggressive and is no longer responding to treatment.

“I felt so helpless,” said Maddox. “I wanted to do something, but I felt like there was nothing I could do.”

That’s when the idea came to her. Since Nathan loves Christmas, Maddox thought it would be fitting to create a tree ornament to raise money.

The small golden ornaments have a picture of Nathan on them, and white, red, and blue lines, representing EMS workers, firefighters, and police, respectively.

The ornaments cost $11.99 each. Funds raised will be donated to Hope for Tomorrow, a charity the Norman family started to raise money for pediatric cancer research and treatment.

Maddox said Nathan and his family have had an impact on her, so she wanted to help.

“I’m a big believer that life is about the spin you put on it,” she said. “And I think they have the greatest positive attitudes.”

So far, Maddox said she’s received an enormous amount of support for the project. People have expressed interest in buying nearly all of the initial 250 ornaments, she said.

Anyone interested in purchasing an ornament can do so by visiting the Facebook page, “Nathan’s Christmas Wish - Pediatric Cancer Awareness.”

“It’s little, but it will mean a lot,” said Maddox.

Jacqueline Tempera can be reached at jacqueline.tempera@globe.com. Follow her on twitter @jacktemp
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