No one wanted to tell Carter Davis that he had cancer – “leukemia” seemed a less daunting word – but he figured it out anyway. And he knew what stretched out before him: months and years of chemotherapy, all of it halting his childhood. “But I just knew that we would get through it,” he said. He was 7 then. He’s 15 now. He did get through it. He finished chemo in February (2017). Twenty-nine spinal taps and more than 80 hospital nights later, he has the chance to be a kid again. His oncologist told him he’ll be feeling normal in no time. BuckeyeThon exists for kids like Carter. It raises money to assist in their care and fuel the research that could someday end childhood cancer and blood disorders. The children know this, and they know something else: BuckeyeThon – and especially the fundraiser’s closing Dance Marathon – picks them up when they may be feeling at their worst. “It’s so cool when like you run down that red carpet and high-five everyone, and they’re all cheering,” he said. Carter’s story began with what seemed like a virus. Blood tests confirmed that it was much worse. Doctors told his parents that he was gravely ill.
“It didn’t really click at that point, so we walked upstairs and they said, ‘Welcome to Oncology,’” said Carter’s mom, Julie. “So that’s when we knew something was very wrong.”
They discovered BuckeyeThon during Carter’s treatment. Carter’s father, Brian, was struck by how hard the young volunteers worked and how much they gave. Relationships followed. Students quickly became family. Dance marathons felt like reunions. And in 2017, it was an especially happy reunion. Carter was nearly done with chemo and relishing the thought of not being sick anymore. He stayed up late, past 11 p.m., playing games with his college friends. Everyone wanted to play with Carter. Even he was amazed. “I turn the corner and someone is always there to say, ‘I’ll play this with you, I’ll do that,’” he said. “It’s just super cool that so many college students gather to come and help kids with pediatric cancer.”