CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – While battling anaplastic ependymoma — an aggressive brain cancer — 2-year-old Devin Kirtley, of Canfield, is staying strong. Thanks to the local fire department, he’s not fighting alone.
Devin still fights this battle every day but over the past month, he and his family have seen the army behind him. All over the community and beyond, we are learning what it means to be #DevinStrong.
“Devin Strong isn’t just about Devin. It’s about the whole community of Canfield getting together,” said Hayden Smith, with the Cardinal Joint Fire District.
Together for Devin — and that’s exactly what they’ve done with t-shirt sales, donations, gifts and prayers.
“We just thank God for everyone, and just thank them and for their prayers. Just keep praying for God’s intervention,” said Lisa Lawton, Devin’s grandma.
Chemo was not shown to help children in Devin’s case so he lives at home with a palliative care team that keeps him comfortable.
It’s not easy for his family.
“Just thinking of the possibility that he could go to heaven and be with God,” said Dominic Mullins, Devin’s brother.
His older brother remembers the meaning of #DevinStrong.
“It’s just something that reminds us that he’s a warrior, he’s strong, he can fight through whatever hits him,” Dominic said.
The disease has nothing on Devin’s smile or happiness.
“It’s just him,” Dominic said. “He’s a happy person. Whenever he’s around people, he’s happy.”
Especially around Gio Melia, a firefighter who helped sell t-shirts, raising the family more than $5,000.
“God touched Gio’s heart and Gio has such a big heart, and everyone just wanted to latch on and show their support for Little D,” Lisa said.
“I feel really honored just to see him, and knowing that we were able to provide care for his treatment and help out with the family,” Gio said.
“I knew it was God just touching everyone’s heart and Gio, taking that step forward,” Lisa said.
Devin’s smile and courage are infectious. He has touched so many people — even those who remain anonymous.
“We don’t know who brought this little Mason jar with this heart on it that said, ‘Believe,'” Lisa said.
She said the people behind the scenes are just as special to their family.
“They love Devin so much and they’ve never even met him. They just want to help in any way.”
Devin was invited to ride on the fire truck with the department during Canfield’s Fourth of July parade. The procession starts at the Fairgrounds at 10:10 a.m. and ends at the Green. If you see him, be sure to wave!
To show your support for Devin and his family, and to learn more about his journey, head over to the Sweet Devin’s Long Road To Recovery Facebook page.