Your gift: My “clueless,” cancer-free kid

December 30, 2017
Topics: Riley Kid Story, Cancer (oncology)

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Blake and Ben Edwards with Dan Dakich

“Who are you and why are you in this chair?” These questions came from Dan Dakich, former Indiana University basketball player who now hosts a sports talk radio show in November. 

My son Ben is no stranger to being messed with. He replied immediately with, “My name is Ben Edwards and I have no clue why I am sitting in this chair.” 

Ben’s response elicited laughter from the radio show crew. It occurred to me when I listened to the interview that Ben didn’t know why he was sitting in the chair because he is a healthy 8-year-old kid now. (Check out the show’s podcast here.) 

Ben was not always a healthy 8-year-old. At one time he was a very sick 1-year-old. A cancerous brain tumor grew on the back of his brain and blocked his ventricles from draining cerebrospinal fluid. I remember seeing him on a bed, connected to a series of wires, when the Riley nurses rolled him back for the tumor removal surgery. I’m sure he had no idea why he was lying on a surgical bed either. 

That was almost seven years ago, and now Ben does not know why everyone treats him like he’s something special. He doesn’t know why he gets to be a Speedway Miracle Kid or why he gets invited to dance marathons or why someone would interview him on a talk radio show. That’s because he’s a healthy kid now; cancer free for almost seven years, and he doesn’t remember everything that happened. 

Ben’s 11-year-old brother, Blake, did most of the talking on the interview. That’s what Blake has always done, stayed close to Ben when things got rough. Blake remembers everything; the tumor, the shunt surgeries, the sleepless nights. 

He knows why Ben is sitting in the chair. 

He also knows that you have to just keep telling jokes and having fun regardless of the circumstances, which is what Ben, Blake, and Dan did for about half an hour. (Dan clearly has spent time raising boys.)

Ben may have no clue why he was sitting in the chair talking to Dan Dakich, but he does have a clue why giving to Riley is important. 

For the holidays, please consider giving money to Riley Hospital so other kids can say they have “no clue” that they were ever sick too. 

Click here to donate through The Gift of Hope Happens Here campaign. Gifts to Riley through December 31 are being matched by French Lick Resort, up to $200,000. 

Chris Edwards, Ed. D.

Chris Edwards, Ed.D, teaches AP World History teacher at Fishers High School, and is the author of several books including 'Teaching Genius: Redefining Education with Lessons from Science and Philosophy.' Chris donates the royalties from 'Teaching Genius' to Riley Children's Foundation in support of pediatric cancer research at Riley Hospital. Chris and his wife Beth live in New Palestine are the parents of two boys, Blake, and Ben, who is doing well after being treated at Riley for a cancerous brain tumor.

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