Bonney Lake sophomore Camron Cozzi had just started the holiday break when his doctors gave him and his family the bad news.
What they thought were lasting symptoms of a concussion was actually Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, also known as DIPG, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer that is typically diagnosed in children before they reach double digit ages.
Around 300 children in the US are diagnosed with DIPG every year, according to the Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorder Center.
The cancer is inoperable because the tumor is located in the brain stem, but radiation therapy and other forms of experimental chemotherapy have been used as treatment methods, although the survivability rate remains low.
“It’s really kind of ripped a lot of our kids up,” said Jesse Snyder, the athletic coordinator at Bonney Lake High School. Camron, 15, is a lacrosse player and his older brother a football player and wrestler. “They’re kids that people know, and people like,” Snyder continued.
While Camron’s prognosis remains poor, hope and community support hafs been high.
Panther Parent Pride organized a ‘gray out’ at Bonney Lake High School during Bonney Lake and Sumner’s wrestling match Jan. 6 – hundreds of community members showed up wearing grey, a color representing the fight against brain cancer, to show their support for Camron.
Many crowd members sported shirts specifically made for the event, with a grey ribbon on the front and #TeamCamron on the back.
And instead of a half-time show at the match, volunteers traversed the crowd during a ‘miracle minute’ to see how much money could be raised in one minute for Camron’s medical treatment costs (click the link to donate to the Angel Wings foundation and the Team Cozzi support fund).
Panther Parent Pride’s goal is to raise $15,000, said Coy McElderry, the executive board president of the group.
And after the first round of t-shirt sales and money raised during the miracle minute, around $5,000 has been raised, he said.
“The family has been very involved in all of our subgroups,” said McElderry. “Panther Parent Pride just wants to give back to that family, somehow, some way.”
McElderry also said some credit goes to Sports Connection and Sterling Athletics in Bonney Lake, who both contributed to the fundraising.
An anonymous donor also purchased 300 #TeamCamron shirts, he said.
Another, even larger gray out and fundraising event is planned for the Sumner and Bonney Lake boys and girls varsity basketball games tomorrow, Jan. 12.
The girls game starts at 5:15 p.m. at Bonney Lake High School, and the boys game begins at 7 p.m. There will be a miracle minute during each of the game’s halftimes.