Four-year-old Chad Carr was just too sick to go to the beach, so a charity dedicated to bringing cheer to children fighting cancer brought the beach to him.
Diagnosed with a rare brain tumor last September, the Ann Arbor, Mich., boy longed to frolic in the sand and surf of Sanibel Island, Fla. Friends Are By Your Side, a New Jersey-based charity that makes such dreams happen through its Wigs and Wishes program, learned about Chad and set out to help him in his quest.
But it wasn’t that easy.
"This is the best day ever!"
"We got his wish that he wanted to go to Sanibel Island, the island with more shells than any other island in America,” said founder Martino Cartier. “We were going to plan the trip for him but he wasn't able to fly."
Undeterred, Martino and his New Jersey-based team gathered three tons of sand, more than 6,000 seashells and bought a hot tub and enough beach toys to keep Chad busy and happy for his well-deserved day in the sun. When they put together their portable backyard beach for Chad on Thursday, the boy’s heart pounded with joy.
"This is the best day ever!" he exclaimed.
Unable to walk steadily, Chad got a lift to the sand from his mother, Tammi Curtis Carr. Having endured Chad’s struggle with a brain cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, and the grueling treatments any mom would gladly suffer through to spare her child, Carr was overwhelmed.
"Seeing Chad's reaction was just everything to me,” she told FoxNews.com. “ It combines all of his favorite things – sand, shells, a hot tub and even bubbles. For me to hear Chad say, ‘It's the best day ever’ means everything."
Friends Are By Your Side, a charity sponsored by the beauty industry and which in addition to granting wishes to terminally ill children, gives free wigs to women going through chemotherapy, could soon be joined by a new charity dedicated to helping youngsters battling cancer. Chad's mother said the boy's experience has inspired her to create a charity to raise money for pediatric brain cancer research. The Carr family plans to call it “The Chad Tough Foundation.”
"We've known that we wanted to do something to create good out of this horrible situation, and we want Chad to be a part of creating the cure for DIPG down the road," Carr said. "The funding for pediatric brain tumors is pathetic honestly and we have to be a part of making that change."
In the meantime, although the average survival rate for victims of the aggressive type of cancer afflicting Chad is nine to 12 months, the boy is being treated with steroids enabling him to walk again and has started an experimental drug.
"We still have hope, and pray for that miracle," said Carr.