A terminally-ill Delaware County boy will receive a hero's welcome when he returns home from his Make-A-Wish vacation tomorrow to a massive police escort that will take him from the Philadelphia International Airport to his front door in Springfield.
Brayden Chandler, 3, was diagnosed with a kidney tumor last January and this month, his parents were told that doctors could do no more for the boy. Instead of treatment, they told the Chandlers to enjoy their last bit of time with their son.
Right now, the Chandler family is at Walt Disney World, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but the surprises won't end when they get home tomorrow.
Thanks to a Radnor Police Department officer who knows the family, the department has spearheaded a large, multi-agency police escort for the Chandlers and their Brayden, who is a big fan of large, loud things, according to Radnor Lt. Christopher Flanagan.
"We and the family are trying to create an experience and memory for Brayden that he can take with him, as he has not had the opportunity to create many memories of his own," Flanagan wrote in a release.
The police escort will begin around 4:30 p.m. at baggage claim A, when the Chandler family is expected to return, and it will continue to the Chandler family's front door on Pancoast Road near Franklin Avenue in Springfield.
Flanagan said he's not sure how many vehicles and officers will participate, but he's heard rumors that there may be up to 40 or 50 cars in the escort.
"We're really hoping it goes well," he said. "It'd be great if it didn't snow because then we could use the motorcycles too."
Staging for any police vehicle wishing to participate in the escort will take place at 4 p.m. at the Tinicum Firehouse on Wanamaker Avenue near 2nd Street. Civilians wishing to show their support to Brayden are asked to line up along roads closer to his Springfield home.
Brayden's parents have been chronicling his battle with cancer on their Facebook page, Brayden's Buddies. This post from Feb. 5 is gut-wrenching:
Tonight we have heart breaking news. After 13 months of Brayden battling cancer he has relapsed once again. The doctors have told us there is nothing else they can do for him. We will now be only doing comfort care for him. It breaks my heart to watch our child go through this. Never in a million years did I think this would happen. Childhood cancer is cruel and no one should ever have go through this pain that our family has endured. Brayden is a true fighter and I am proud he is our son. I am sorry he has to go through any of this. We have been there through everything and now have to help our son remain comfortable an act that I never wanted to endure as a parent. Please keep our little guy in your thoughts and prayers and hug your little ones often because we never know what tomorrow brings."