By Shawn Gunarich
News & Feature Editor
Landon Knepp is a kindergartener at Red Lion, but two years ago, he and hisfamily had their world pulled out from under them, as a 12 centimeter tumor in Landon’s abdomen was found. The tumor would come back to be cancer, a rare and aggressive cancer called Stage Four Neuroblastoma. Since his diagnosis, Landon has undergone six rounds of chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, and immunotherapy. Any child who has to undergo such things should be considered a superhero, and in the Four Diamonds family, Landon is a superhero.
The Knepp family has agreed to be the Red Lion Mini-THON family for 2016. This means on April 8, Red Lion students, faculty and Four Diamonds families will dance for twelve hours straight to raise money in honor of the Knepp family. This year is special to the Red Lion Mini-THON family, as it is the tenth birthday of THON at Red Lion.
Since Landon’s last round of chemotherapy this past November, his tumor was reduced considerably and completely eradicated.
“Its tears you apart to see your son like that,” Mrs. Katie Knepp said after recalling Landon in a weakened state, “but after everything, in the end it pulls you all together.” Landon’s mother was forced to resign as a teacher in Red Lion School District in order to be with Landon in his time of need.
Since 1993, Mini-THONs have raised over $17 million to help end a disease that affects millions of families worldwide. In 2015 alone, 188 schools in Pennsylvania raised $4,309,979.60. These feats could not have been reached without the growing family that is the Four Diamonds Fund.
The Four Diamonds was founded by Charles and Irma Millard who lost their son, Chris, to pediatric cancer, but not before Chris could write a story called the Four Diamonds. This story, which gave the Four Diamonds its name, also gave them their ideals and principles. In Chris’ story his character, Sir Millard, is sent out to collect four diamonds that symbolize a certain characteristic of the Four Diamonds fund. These characteristics are honesty, courage, wisdom, and strength, each of which is a diamond that makes the symbol of the fund.
Because of Charles and Irma Millard we have the Four Diamonds, a fund that is based out of Penn State Hershey Medical Center and has touched over 3,200 families.
For those who don’t know, the Four Diamonds helps to raise money to help end childhood cancer, but also allows the parents of the affected children not to have to worry about medical bills. Everything from lodging to food is taken care of by the fund, which allows parents of the children to focus on what really matters, the kids.
“Knowing we didn’t have those medical bills was like a ton of bricks lifted off our shoulders,” Mrs. Knepp said.
Every three minutes, a child is diagnosed with cancer worldwide. The aim of the Four Diamonds fund is to make that number zero, and with the help of Mini-THONs across the world, we can make it happen.