7-year-old Luke O'Moore was at a BMX track Wednesday enjoying one of the best times in his life, the innocence of youth, and the passion of an organized sport like BMX racing. Luke loves it more than anything else, which is really quite revealing because not long ago, he was actively fighting for his life, awaiting two big chemotherapy injections in a different kind of battle: Leukemia.
"It came about all of a sudden. We were on vacation," Luke's father Fergal says. For him, his wife Mary, and Luke, there are no answers to the question of why. "Initially, it's shock, heartbreak," Mary says.
That shock and heartbreak has been replaced with the determination to endure the treatments at Lucille Packard Children's Hospital. And, they're now getting support from, of all places, the very same racers they try so hard to win against every weekend. James Traylor and his wife Jessica sell tee-shirts that say LukesLemons.org on them at every BMX racing event. "Because I have a son who is 12 and it made me think about my son and how my son is healthy," Jessica says.
Last weekend, they held the first in a series of five races to raise money for Luke's website and charity which contributes not to his case, but cancer research at Lucille Packard. It has galvanized the community. If not for Luke, the track might have had one-third the number of people that were there Wednesday.
"It's an aggressive, hard sport, and not for the faint of heart," Fergal says. "And, I think they appreciate that Luke really embodies overcoming adversity." The doctors say that Luke cannot compete in an actual race right now, but he can attend meets and watch. On Wednesday, they honored Luke by asking him to lead the parade lap. "He's a stubborn, passionate child," Fergal says. "Doctors told as at the very beginning that his stubbornness and defiance are what's going to make him better."
Luke's treatment will take three years, three metaphorical laps around a difficult track, but as the BMX community helps fund research for kids who will follow in Luke's path, they also help him. Last weekend, they raised $7,000. "I try every day to think of words to say, 'Thank you' and I still haven't. I can't. I don't know if it's overwhelming, it's just unbelievable," Mary says.
In trials like these, it's good to have a family behind you. "We are all here to help him fight for his life," Bryan Harrell says.
Luke O'Moore has a big one.