- Associated Press - Sunday, January 19, 2014

FREMONT, Neb. (AP) - From a fire truck ride after a hospital stay to donations of T-shirt sales from an Olympic athlete, Drake Hegy has known the support of his community.

Now, the Fremont Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1eM1OCE ) the family of 4-year-old boy who’s been battling leukemia wants to give back.

So Drake’s mom, Amanda, plans to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Washington in honor of the child. Funds raised through the event will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Her goal is to raise $4,000 through the 13.1 mile event.

“If our fundraising is successful and I can double our goal, I will commit to doing another half marathon in the fall to equal Drake’s marathon of beating cancer,” the Fremont woman said.

Drake’s marathon began in July 2011, when he began having high fevers. After antibiotics failed to work, Drake’s parents took him to an emergency room in Fremont. He was flown by medical helicopter to Omaha, where - at age 2 - he was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoblastic leukemia after a bone marrow biopsy.

Doctors put together a protocol that included chemotherapy, spinal taps, steroids, clinic visits and hospital stays.

Thus far, he has spent a total of 74 days in the hospital. He has had approximately 30 spinal taps. The final leg of his race - his last chemotherapy treatment - is scheduled for November.

Last year was a good one for the child, however. He played T-ball, took swimming lessons and started preschool.

And he continued to develop his interest in all things related to firefighting.

“He probably owns 40 different fire trucks and a doll house that’s a fire station and he has the official fire gear that he wears every day,” his mom said.

Drake has been a fireman for Halloween during the last two years. He considers his pet, a German shorthair pointer, as a “fire dog” and the family’s couch as a “ladder truck.”

The first firefighter to impact Drake was family friend Josh Tiemann, who lives with his wife, Jen Brown Tiemann in LaGrange. Texas. Tiemann was the first to give Drake a virtual tour of a fire station in Texas and provide him with a firefighter outfit.

For his birthday in May, Drake got a tour of the Fremont Fire Department station (where he plans to work someday). He also visited the station during its open house in October.

Another family friend, Omaha firefighter Ben Heller collaborated with other firemen to provide a special ride for Drake. The Waterloo Volunteer Fire Department brought a fire truck to Children’s Hospital in Omaha and gave the boy a ride home to Fremont.

He also got a T-shirt and captain’s fire helmet.

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