Everyone who knows McCoy Korte is aware that he's a remarkable boy. The 8 year-old has a perpetual twinkle in his blue eyes and a big heart - so big that he jumped at the opportunity to support his 9 year-old cousin, Ethan, who is battling cancer.
The boys have always been close. Ethan and his family lived in Wichita until recently when they moved to Texas. It was no surprise to McCoy's parents, Hope and Chris Korte, that their son would want to actively support his cousin in his fight against Rhabdomysarcomma, a soft tissue form of cancer in which two-thirds of the cases are diagnosed in children.
A tumor behind Ethan's eye caused some swelling, the only visible symptom. Because he is a football player his parents thought that their son had developed an allergy. Allergy medication wasn't helping and a nurse advised them that allergies didn't appear to be the problem. Ethan was taken to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, where a biopsy was performed resulting in the diagnosis. He has begun chemotherapy and will later take six weeks of radiation therapy at a Houston hospital.
McCoy, a third grader at Ewalt Elementary, decided to shave his head to show Ethan his encouragement and support, but was surprised by some reactions at school the next morning. Before he was able to explain his new look, he was the target of some teasing. When he reached his classroom and was greeted by his teacher, Brenda McCoskey, it was obvious that he was upset.
"October happens to be Anti-Bullying Month and we've been talking about it here at Ewalt. The subject is very important to USD 402 and what McCoy endured amounted to bullying," McCoskey explained.
McCoy's reason for shaving his head was explained to the students who had taken part in the teasing and apologies were immediately made to him. Lessons learned.
"Everyone understands that it's pretty important that he take that stand and he's got friends who stood beside him," McCoskey said.
Three other boys chose to shave their heads as a sign of support in Ethan's battle against cancer, as well. They don't know Ethan, but they know McCoy and that is enough.
Upon receiving word of McCoy and his friends' gestures of support, Ethan and his family were very pleased.
"We're all very proud of McCoy," beamed his mother Hope.
The good news is that Ethan's cancer has not spread and a high percentage of children with localized rhabdomyosarcoma enjoy long-term survival.
Hope works for the Coleman Company and knowing that her brother's family enjoys camping, she made a product donation request in honor of Ethan's battle against cancer. Coleman generously donated some camping gear to the family.
Page 2 of 2 - Anyone who would like to help Ethan and his family, or just find out more about him, can visit on the web: http://www.giveforward.com/pediatric-fundraiser/ethansbattle.
In the meantime McCoy will continue to show his support to his cousin as long as it is needed.
"It's just something I want to do."