Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) Birthdays look different during COVID-19, but Will Krause got to celebrate his 12th birthday in a special way thanks to local first responders.
The Hewitt Area Volunteer Fire Department, Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department, Wood County Sheriff’s Department, and family friends drove by Will’s Hewitt residence on May 7. The parade was organized by family neighbor Lori Pahl, a member of the Hewitt fire department.
The gesture was a nice surprise for Will, who was first diagnosed with leukemia at 3 years old and is battling cancer for the third time. He recently spent 47 days in the hospital for a stem cell transplant and is undergoing chemo treatments for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which was diagnosed in March 2019 and reappeared again last October during a post-treatment check-up.
Photos: Branden Bodendorfer
“The Krause family has been going through a lot,” said Hewitt Fire Chief Brian Hafermann, who grew up in Hewitt with Will’s mom, Becky. “We want to support them, try to put a smile on Will’s face.”
Will was made an honorary member of the Hewitt fire department last summer, an idea which came about thanks to Hafermann’s son and Will’s younger brother Ben.
Dave, Will’s dad, said the family is amazed by the support they’ve received, from meals provided to all the letters of support Will received while in the hospital, and that those gestures are characteristic of the community.
“The support we’ve received is just overwhelming in some cases,” said Dave. “It’s hard to put into words how meaningful it’s been and the extent of it — even things that you don’t see physically, but you know people are praying for him and pulling for him. It just means an amazing amount not just for him, but for Becky and I, to know that support is out there.”
While Will has been through more than other kids his age, he’s still a normal 12-year-old who loves sports and spending time with friends. Last fall, Will faithfully participated in a youth football program even while undergoing treatment. Next school year, he’ll head to Marshfield Middle School.
Through all the medical treatments, the Krause family is dedicated to giving back to the community as much as it has given to them. After Will’s first diagnosis, they established a local Pediatric Cancer Angel Fund which helps families of pediatric oncology patients with financial support for everyday needs like groceries, lodging, transportation, rent, and more.
During COVID-19, the fund will be more vital than ever for families.
“Pediatric cancer doesn’t end when people are quarantined, unfortunately,” said Dave. “There’s a lot of families still in need and are going through that journey. This just makes it even harder. I’m suspecting we’re going to see some fairly significant demand for funds.”
In addition to setting up the fund, Dave serves on the board for Joshua’s Camp in Eau Claire, which offers respite for families facing childhood cancer.
Dave also shares a birthday with Will, but is content to give all the attention to his son. “They keep asking me what I want for my birthday,” he said. “I say I got it, you gave me my birthday present 12 years ago. I don’t need another one.”
To learn more about Will’s journey, follow his story online at CaringBridge.