EUSTIS – On Sunday, the Eustis community went above and beyond for Tyler Williams, a 14-year-old cancer survivor who had one wish for his birthday – to play in a real football game.
But it wasn’t just any football game.
Over 100 community members, along with Eustis Town Commissioners, Eustis High School and ROTC Color Guard cheerleading team, and EHS quarterback Blayne Romano came to show their support. Even Fire Chief Michael Swanson and Police Chief Craig Capri joined the game on opposing teams.
“This is an incredible opportunity to help one of our young citizens,” said Eustis Commissioner Willie Hawkins. “When his mother reached out to me I knew it was gone. We have so many people in the community who are here to support him and I love that his family wants to get involved with everyone. together, truly showing the meaning of community.
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In 2011, Tyler started “funny walking”. Doctors found a huge lump on the left side of his brain. It was a primary malignant supratentorial nuroectodermal tumor that covered 90% of his left brain, putting pressure on his motor cortex, which caused his walking problem.
Tyler underwent multiple brain surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy, all in seven months. But on June 12, 2012, he was cancer free.
Just when they thought it was over, Tyler started having severe seizures, some lasting up to four hours. This resulted in more brain surgeries and a partial hemispherectomy.
Despite their struggles, the family maintains a positive attitude and is grateful that Tyler is still there with them today. He loves video games and sports, especially soccer, and wanted to celebrate his 14th birthday with all of his favorite people.
“Tyler is so excited beyond his wildest dreams,” said his mother, Sable Fulmore. “He asked me everyday if it was the day and he was so excited for it. I can’t thank everyone enough for helping us make this happen for him.
“Happy Birthday Tyler”
The game also served as a fundraiser for Runway to Hope, which supports pediatric cancer patients. The association helped Tyler with his treatment and he wanted to give back to their organization.
“We want to say ‘Happy Birthday Tyler’ first,” said Mayor Michael Holland. “This community loves you and it is so important to give back to our children. Tyler loves football and what better day than this to come and support him and his cause. “
Chef Capri agreed saying he was so happy to make a difference in Tyler’s life, and Chef Swanson gladly offered him a friendly competition, saying everything was for the kids.
“We have such a diverse group here and it’s amazing that it can bring everyone together,” said interim city manager Tom Carino. “Tyler’s face has the biggest grin right now and we’re so happy to be a part of making that happen.”