Chrissy Egan was one of the millions of people around the world to hear Danny Nickerson’s story two weeks ago on Facebook. Family members of the Foxboro, Mass., boy said on social media pages and in local news reports that all that the 5-year-old wanted for his birthday on July 25 was cards – and the request of the cancer-stricken boy went viral online.
Egan was touched by the story; she works with children herself in the North Bellmore School District. Those children – special education students enrolled in the district’s extended school year – were some of the thousands of people who tried to make Nickerson’s birthday special by sending him cards and well wishes, thanks to a project organized by Egan.
“It was such a sweet and thoughtful wish, so I couldn’t pass up this opportunity,” she said. “It’s a simple activity that anybody could do that had such an impact on him.”
North Bellmore students in the district-wide summer program sent 65 cards to Nickerson on July 24. Egan said the card-making project was also a rewarding experience for their students, who sharpened their writing and social skills while working on the gifts.
Nickerson was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, – an aggressive, inoperable brain stem tumor, – on Oct. 24, 2013, according to a blog run by his family members. The Nickersons found out he had the oft chemotherapy-resistant cancer four days after the boy had fallen while out on a playground.
“Our lives fell apart,” Carley Nickerson, Danny’s mother, explained on a Facebook page she set up in her son’s honor called “Danny’s Warriors. “My heart felt like it exploded; there are no words to explain the pain that instantly hit my chest.”
Carley Nickerson explained on Facebook that her son only wanted mail for his sixth birthday. He had been lonely since having to leave kindergarten for radiation treatments, she said, and he loved receiving things with his name on them.
The boy’s request made international headlines and was shared across social media sites. When Egan saw an article about the Nickersons, she decided to talk to her fellow North Bellmore faculty members to organize a project in honor of Danny Nickerson.