Just one day before his second birthday, Braeden was diagnosed with stage III, high-risk neuroblastoma, a malignant tumor that develops from nerve tissue and is the most common solid tumor found in children under the age of 1. Braeden underwent six rounds of chemotherapy, several surgeries, a stem cell transplant, and completed twelve cycles of radiation therapy before his fourth birthday. When he relapsed in August of 2008, his parents continued to look for treatment options. Unfortunately Braeden lost his battle in April of 2009.
Kevin and Dawn knew that they couldn’t let their son’s legacy end with his passing, and began looking for ways to share Braeden’s story and raise awareness for other children battling cancer. Kevin explains, “When your child dies, they have made such an impact on you as a parent, and everyone they have touched. You want to make their life continue to mean something and count for something.” The Ultimate Hike program gave them the perfect outlet to do just that. Both Kevin and Dawn were never hikers before they joined the Ultimate Hike program, but now couldn’t imagine life without it. With two hikes under their belts, they have found that the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie felt at the end of a long training hike or when they get to tell Braeden’s story helps them stay connected to their son.
Though Braeden lost his battle, Kevin and Dawn hope that his spirit lives on through their actions and that one day no child will be diagnosed with cancer.