The Nathan Norman movement

Anthony GonzalezStaff Writer

December 11, 2012

In Idaho, a 30-pound kindergartener is unaware just how different he is from other boys his age. He just knows he’s happy to be alive and that something is terribly wrong with his heart.

He’s too pure, too innocent, yet at age 5 he is intelligent to even know that some day, that broken heart he has may be the cause of his last breath.

However, before that happens, Tayt Anderson has one wish: To go on a date with his “girlfriend,” Ellen DeGeneres, to Disneyland.

In contrast, Jordan Johnson has pain in his elbows and knees. His parents thought it was just a normal case of growing pains. But Jordan, a 12-year-old Azusa, California resident, was also sensitive to light and he wasn’t eating well.

Then one day in March, Jordan collapsed while playing video games. His parents rushed him to the hospital and a CT scan showed a golf-ball sized tumor in Jordan’s head attached to the lining of his brain.

Though Jordan today is in recovery and didn’t request a wish from a celebrity, he and his family can now look forward to more moments together with a six-day trip to Oahu, Hawaii, sponsored by the Make a Wish Foundation. The foundation stepped up to give respite to a family that’s been living in turmoil.

Many stories pertaining to terminally ill children go unnoticed, though. They’re not attached to glitz, celebrities, or vacations. Many families find hardship from the difficulties coping with the manifestations of terminal medical conditions, thus opting to isolate the loved one from public spotlight.

Closer to Elkin, all Nathan Norman wants for Christmas this year are Christmas cards from cops, firefighters and paramedics – his heroes.

Nathan, a 5-year-old boy battling terminal brain cancer in Rustburg, Va, admires no one more than people willing to risk their own lives to save the lives of others.

Virginia State Police recently put out a special request to police agencies across the country. The request went viral.

Now Nathan’s Christmas wish has gained national notoriety with city cops, firefighters and paramedics throughout the United States, many sending “get well” cards, patches, posters, shirts, hats and autographed photos to Nathan’s home. And Nathan’s story has even traveled abroad through our U.S. Armed Forces.

“People from over twenty-two nations have shipped Nathan cards,” said Nathan’s father Bobby Norman in an exclusive interview with the Tribune. During the interview, the family was traveling back from vacation, and they were told by Nathan’s grandmother that more than 2,000 boxes were shipped to Nathan and await his arrival.

It’s not just first responders supporting Nathan. Local churches in Elkin have joined in the effort shipping cards of encouragement to Nathan.

“What got me interested in Nathan’s story was how simple his request was,” said Judy Baldwin of Mount Calvary Baptist Church.

The sentiment was echoed by Beverly Byerly of Island Ford Baptist Church in Jonesville. Byerly said, “Nathan could’ve asked for toys, could’ve asked for a miracle, but instead he asks for cards … you want cards, you’re going to get them.” Island Ford Baptist is one of several local churches that are collecting Christmas cards to send to Nathan Norman.

Nathan has been fighting brain cancer since January 2009, when doctors found a tumor. They immediately operated. But over the next three years, the brain cancer progressed.

Now, Nathan has an inoperable tumor in his spine.

“Nathan’s destiny is in the hands of Jesus Christ, and we’ve been happy to serve as his vessel,” said Norman. “Right now Nathan is in good spirits though chemotherapy has taken a toll on him. He’s recently completed his 6th treatment of chemo and after this treatment all that’s left are clinical trials.”

Last Friday night, the 5-year-old cancer fighting hero got perhaps his biggest honor yet. He joined Gov. Bob McDonnell in Richmond, Va. where Nathan got to flip the switch for the Christmas tree lighting in the capitol.

The family says that Nathan understands his role and responsibility and anything he can do to make a difference in the lives of people, he will.

“We’re sending through your paper our complete and sincere thank you to all of the residents of our neighbors in North Carolina, and each of you should know how much your support is appreciated,” said Nathan’s father. “It’s made such a difference in Nathan’s life and ours.”

If you would like to send Nathan a Christmas card this holiday season please mail correspondence to: Nathan Norman, 81 Dunivan Drive, Rustburg, VA 24588.

Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 835-1513 or email agonzalez@heartlandpublications.com.