Caleb Larson's family has been on an unyeilding mission since 2007. For the Graford residents, that was the year their son was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer. The diagnosis came in February, a month shy of his fourth birthday.
The disease manifested quickly, showing signs in Caleb just two weeks prior to his diagnosis, and by the time doctors discovered what was wrong with him, it was too late. He died six months later, on August 17, 2007.
Since then, the Larson family has held a memorial in honor of Caleb that benefits the Cook Children's Hospital Neuroblastoma Childhood Cancer Program. This year marks the sixth rodeo-themed memorial out at the Young County Arena.
With the help of many members of the local community, Caleb's mother, Brandi Larson, has put on the event all six years.
"He loved life and rodeo, and that's what his memorial is all about," Larson said. "I just want to raise money to help other children so they don't have to go through what he went through."
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is in September, and it is dedicated to raising money and awareness to help discover better treatments and cures for the various forms of cancer that tend to manifest in children.
The Larsons initially held their memorial in August, but the next year, they found an opening slot coinciding with National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month at the Young County Arena. The event has been held in September from 2009 to the present.
While families like the Larsons are doing commendable work locally to augment the amount of funding that goes to childhood cancer research, particularly research and treatment of neuroblastoma, funding for childhood cancers is low on the list of money allocated for cancer research. In 2012, the largest amount of funding given by the National Cancer Institute went to breast cancer research, at just over $602 million. This was followed by lung cancer, which topped out at $314 million, and prostate cancer, which received $265 million. Read the entire story in this weekend's edition of the Graham Leader.