Balloons were released on the playground of Benton Elementary School by the first grade class November 19 to honor a fellow first grade student who is fighting cancer.
Leo DeVore was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) at the beginning of the 2021 school year. Since that diagnosis, a Facebook page (Fight Like Leo) has been set up to keep everyone up to date on his treatment and the needs of his family. T-shirts and wristbands are being sold to help the family with costs while they travel back and forth to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. A Go Fund Me account has also been started for anyone who would like to contribute. The details can be found on the Facebook page.
During his absence from school, many in the community have organized fundraisers and shown support to Leo and his family by wearing their “Fight Like Leo’ T-shirts and wristbands.
Vanderbilt has a program for children fighting cancer called “Monkey in my chair” to help students feel connected to their friends during the time they aren’t able to attend school. A stuffed monkey keeps Leo’s seat warm in the classroom until he can return, attends functions at the school and serves as a reminder to the other students that he is still a part of their class. The monkey was even able to attend his birthday party a few weeks ago along with his fellow classmates via a ZOOM meeting. His class also wears their ‘Fight Like Leo’ T-shirts every Friday to show their support.
Jessica Brown, Leo’s first grade teacher, said, “We miss him. We want him to know we are thinking about him and holding him close in our thoughts and prayers. We are looking forward to having him back for second grade.”