MIDLOTHIAN, Va -- With the help of his neighbors and classmates, 8-year-old Beckett Wyatt took a free helicopter ride from the YMCA on Woolridge Road in Midlothian to VCU Medical Center to get treatment for a rare form of aggressive cancer.
Nine months ago, Beckett was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma. The treatment he received last summer worked for a little while, but his family said around Christmas doctors found a new tumor.
"Stage four Ewing's Sarcoma, which is very rare," said Rodger Wyatt, Beckett's father. "There's only about 1,000 kids that have it at one time, and stage four, from our understanding, is that there are only 10 to 12 kids in the world who have that."
Beckett continues to get treatments at VCU Medical Center as doctors work to find a drug that can slow down his cancer, according to his father.
If the young boy's battle was not difficult enough, Beckett's mother Kimmy said he despises the drive from their Midlothian home to VCU Medical Center, a nearly 30-minute trip."Nobody wants to go in [for treatment]; nobody wants to have to," she said. "This is a way of making it a lot more fun, and making it not so bad."
Local helicopter pilot Whit Baldwin heard that Beckett hated the drive to treatment, so with the help of neighbors and friends, a group organized a free helicopter ride for Beckett. It was Beckett's first helicopter ride, and a smile rarely left his face before, during, or immediately after the trip.
"My mom could buy a helicopter, that would be great!" Beckett said with a grin after landing on the helipad at VCU Medical Center."He would be happy if he came out here and somebody else got the helicopter ride. That's what a cool kid he is," Rodger Wyatt said. "The chances for firsts, keep going down. The chances for lasts, keep going up. Anytime there is a chance for a first, I'll take it any day of the week."
Beckett's family said they are "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of support they have received since their son's diagnosis.
"This is a terrible experience. Nobody ever wants to go through something like this alone," Kimmy Wyatt said. "We weren't even [living] in the area that long when he was diagnosed. There are already people who feel like family in such a short time... everybody has made things so much easier and walked with us through this."
While Beckett continues his fight, Rodger Wyatt said his doctors are looking for new treatments to help control his cancer. Rodger Wyatt points out that funding for childhood cancer research falls well short of funding for research into adult cancer.
"That needs to change if these kids are going to have a chance to survive," he said.