In the spirit of “peace on earth” and good will to men”, people across the nation are remembering to thank their community servants. It is a time when people who ordinarily take law eforcement, firefighters, and EMS for their outstanding service, services that are usually taken for granted. People show their gratitude in various ways, such as sending cards and delivering meals and homemade goodies to stations and precinct offices. Churches, television stations, newspapers, and Facebook fans will post messages, thanking their local heroes for a job well done.
Most of the time, the special people who so faithfully and honorably serve their communities will respond by saying that they do not see themselves as heroes, they do not expect recognition, and that the dangers they face are “just business”. What they do not realize is that it is the small gestures of kindness and compassion that make them heroes.
In Virginia, those hometown heroes are taking the opportunity to recognize a hero of their own. He is probably the “littlest hero” in their community. He does not carry a badge. He nor dive a patrol unit, nor carry a firearm, because he is too young to do either one. He does, however, fight a life or death battle every day of his life. He may be a frail little boy, but he is a giant because he has overcome tremendous adversity with a positive attitude.
He is Nathan Norman, and he is fighting a rare and deadly form of brain cancer. Nathan was diagnosed in 2009. Although he is only five years old, Nathan has endured more medical procedures than most adults. He underwent surgery to remove the brain tumor, but the tumor’s “tentacles” had grown into the brain, making it impossible to remove it all. Nathan has also endured aggressive chemotherapy.
After a particularly grueling treatment in September, Nathan asked his father to hang the Christmas lights.
“I think the lights will make me feel better,” he said.
Nathan’s parents approved of the idea. They believed that it was appropriate to fill their home with the elements of Christmas – love, hope, peace, and joy – because it is those same elements that have sustained them throughout Nathan’s ordeal.
Neighbors followed their lead. They also hung Christmas decorations and sent early greeting cards.
Nathan has only one Christmas wish – to receive Christmas cards from police from his heroes: officers and firefighters. Sgt. Robert Carpentieri learned of this request when he received an email from a mutual friend. As a PIO with the Virginia State Patrol, he helped to spread the word.
The response has been overwhelming. Nathan has been deluged with cards, He receives about 20-30 cards a day from all over the world, so every day feels like Christmas to him. More importantly, Nathan recognizes that every day is a Christmas gift from God.
“Most of us chose this profession out of a desire to help people,” Carpentieri said. “This is simply an opportunity to brighten a child’s day, and to let him know that he has our love and support. He may think of us as heroes, but to us, he is a hero, because he has endured so much, and yet he has such a positive attitude”.
Indeed. In spite of what he has been through, Nathan has never felt sorry for himself. He is always thinking of others. An example of this is that when a card is accompanied with a dollar bill, he will use it to do something kind for other cancer patients.
“He really is an inspiration,” Dawn said.
The family has put the future into perspective. Every day is a leap of faith.
“Nathan will be healed one way or another, Dawn said. “The ultimate healing is in heaven. Nathan is not a victim. Whether God chooses to heal him on earth or in heaven, Nathan wins.”
Please send cards to:
81 Dunivan Dr
Rustburg, VA 24588.
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