Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2016, 11-year-old Dylan Thomas fought for two years through bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy treatments and relapses before he succumbed to the disease in 2018.
Before this courageous young man passed, he wanted his mother to promise that his family would return the favor of care and benevolence that was extended to them at UNC Children’s, a place that had become a second home for the family.
“Dylan sat in there, in that room, and he wrote out all of the things that he wanted us to do for him,” his mom Cloie Thomas explained. “For a 13-year-old to be able to think those types of things just shows his strength. I just think that it can’t come from anywhere else other than God.”
Cloie singled out Child Life specialist Ginna Messer as a particular source of strength and care during her family’s time at UNC Children’s.
It was Messer who brought Dylan the notebook to write down the things he would like his family to carry out in his memory.
“I consider her family,” Cloie said. “She just became such an asset to us while we were treated there. There’s no way I could ever, in a million years, repay that woman for all the things that she did for us. I could not have gone through what we went through without her.”
So every year on August 28th, Dylan’s birthday, Cloie fulfills one request made by her son Dylan by bringing loads of toys for her “family” at UNC Children’s to distribute to other kids being treated there.
“When I can do something to help somebody else going through the same thing we went through, it helps my heart, it helps me grieve,” she said.
And the donations will continue in honor of Dylan, Cloie says, as long as she, her family and their community are able to provide them.