By Kaitlyn Chana, ActionNewsJax.com
MACCLENNY, Fla. — An elementary school boy’s dreams have come true through the efforts of his teacher.
Fifth-grade teacher Leah Wheeler spent hours coordinating a surprise party for her student, Ben Davis, who is battling an aggressive form of cancer.
It had been nine weeks since Davis walked the campus at J Franklyn Keller Intermediate School in Macclenny. Wheeler helped coordinate a festive welcome back to school party for the 10-year-old.
All of Ben’s classmates helped keep the anticipation going by acting like this was a typical school day. That’s until, he walked into the library where Wheeler shocked him with all the fun holiday activities to celebrate his return to school.
Days prior, Wheeler put a request on Facebook asking for the community’s help:
ATTN FB FRIENDS: I need YOUR help! A very special boy in our (mine and Jessica Snell McHenry’s) class is battling cancer. He is the most amazing child I’ve ever met and one of the strongest people I know! I’m looking for a football player (FSU, Jaguar, Wildcat, etc) to come and make a gingerbread house with him in my class on Tuesday, December 20th at 12:00. (It will be his first day back to class in a long time) PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE help me out by sharing THIS post so that we can have someone VERY special come and spend time with him! You never know who it could reach! MERRY Christmas!
With the help from her friends, colleagues, and Action News Jax’s Kaitlyn Chana, Wheeler was able to recruit dozens of football players to help make a gingerbread house with Ben.
“Ben is probably one of the sweetest students I’ve ever met. He always kind to others and he is always loving,” Wheeler said.
Sometimes Ben is gone for months as he battles a life-threatening form of cancer in his tongue for the second time.
Ben’s mother, Valerie Wilkerson, said when he was in kindergarten he was diagnosed with soft tissue cancer and now he’s having a similar occurrence. This time, he went through an aggressive form of chemotherapy, but radiation wasn’t an option.
The basics are hard for him; Wilkerson said the tumor on his tongue is hitting a nerve which is causing ear pain and chronic headaches. This is also causing him to have trouble speaking.
Wilkerson said Ben absolutely loves football. Many of his friends believe if he wasn’t sick he’d probably be out on the field playing the sport. The medication he’s on makes him very drowsy, sick, which limits his ability to be able to follow through on all activities.
“He may not show much emotion about it, but I know inside how he is and I know that it just made his day,” Wilkerson said.
Ben is the biggest Jacksonville Jaguars fan; he bleeds the team colors teal and gold. Through some coordinating, Wheeler and Chana made Ben’s ultimate dream come true.
The Jaguars organization granted Ben and his teacher exclusive access to the sidelines to watch the team beat the Chicago Bears and meet some star players.
This little boy has his teachers, friends and his classmates rallying behind him to ensure he continues to wear a smile on his face.