10-year-old brain cancer survivor creates fundraising event to help others “like him”
Landon Derrick just passed the four year mark of being cancer-free. Although that may not seem like a very long time to some, for Landon, it’s almost half of his lifetime. The 10-year-old was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was just six.
Landon’s parents, Matthew and Alana Derrick, began to notice their son falling over occasionally and experiencing dizziness. They took him to the doctor and were told it could be an equilibrium imbalance. But Derrick said his wife insisted it was something more. After Landon underwent an MRI, doctors discovered a malignant tumor on his brain stem. He was quickly scheduled for surgery, but suffered significant health issues after the removal of the tumor.
“Landon was paralyzed on his left side completely after surgery. He had to go through physical therapy,” said Derrick. “It’s going to be something he’ll have to deal with the rest of his life.”
The amount of setbacks and complications Landon has gone through have been extensive. However, Landon and his family have chosen to take their negative experience and turn it into something positive.
According to Derrick, Landon loves Jeeps. Last year, coordinated efforts between the Derrick family and other supporters resulted in the first “Landon’s Jeep Jamboree.” The event was created to help raise funds for other children with pediatric brain cancer. Derrick said Jeep owners traveled from across the country to convoy from Springhill High School in Chapin to the Historic Columbia Speedway. Once the vehicles reached their destination, the Jeeps were displayed at the speedway while live music entertained the crowd, food vendors were on-hand and kid-friendly activities were offered for children. “We partnered with Curing Kids Cancer, and raised approximately $20,000,” said Derrick.
This year, the second annual Landon’s Jeep Jamboree will be held June 22 from 1 to 9 p.m. with the same setup as last year. This year, the funds raised will be going to Landon’s Hope Foundation, which also helps support other children with brain cancer.
Derrick said his son has the desire to help other children. “Landon made it known he wanted to raise money for other kids like him,” he said.
When asked how it felt to see his son not only beat cancer, but create an event to give back to others, Derrick said, “It’s awesome. It kind of reminds me of what my wife Alana told him in the hospital. We didn’t know if he was going to make it, or ever walk again. She whispered in his ear, ‘you are meant for great things.” Derrick also said his family decided they wanted to do more for their community. “So, I think this is our way we can give back, all thanks to him.”
Anyone interested in learning more or registering their Jeep into the convoy and jamboree can visit Landonshope.org. Jeep infield parking at the Columbia Speedway will be $15 the day of the event. General admission parking is $5. Gates open at noon.