2015: Alex Richards

On August 6, 2007 a very special boy, Alex Richards, was born. He was a normal, happy, healthy, and active boy. But life for Alex and his entire family changed forever on October 2, 2011.

That day started like any other, with a trip to the mall to help pick out a dress with his sister, but later that day Alex complained of a tummy ache and shortness of breath. When Alex’s mother, Sheri Richards, tried talking to her son to find out the problem, he was unable to respond, so she acted immediately and called an ambulance. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, Alex struggled to breathe and lost consciousness.

When the paramedics arrived, they immediately rushed him to Walton County hospital. Alex was very frightened about what was happening to him, and had to be sedated. The chest X-Ray revealed a mass in Alex’s chest, and he was flown to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. After assessing Alex’s condition, the doctor broke the devastating news to the Richards family; Alex had a 4x8x9cm tumor in his chest that was crushing his airway, and they were not sure if he would survive. The doctors diagnosed Alex with T-Cell Lymphoma or leukemia. After spending 10 days in a medically induced coma, Alex started his chemotherapy regimen. Alex was put on a rigorous 38 month chemotherapy treatment plan, and Sheri was by her son’s side the entire time.

As Alex went through the 3 ½ year battle with his cancer, his energy and positive attitude inspired everyone around him. But then the unthinkable happened. With only 3 months left of his treatment plan, Alex started to feel sick again. The doctor did a bone marrow test and the results were devastating. Alex was diagnosed with cancer for a second time, Monosomy 7 with AML, on October 31, 2014. Alex was given a 35% chance of survival. Despite the setbacks, Sheri kept an extremely positive attitude and refused to give up. To help keep up Alex’s spirits, she made #TeamAlex signs and T-Shirts and kept Alex surrounded by positive energy. After his first round of chemotherapy, he still had 15% leukemia in his bone marrow and needed a transplant. Fortunately, Alex’s sister Julia was a perfect match and she donated her bone marrow to her brother to help save his life. Alex had month long stays at the Ronald McDonald House, getting round the clock treatment. Sheri quit her job to be with her son throughout all his new treatments and procedures. She could not bear to leave his side. As Sheri is a single Mom, this created a serious financial burden on her family, but Alex’s health is her number one priority.

Alex was chosen as this year’s Nancy Falco Fund recipient because he and his family embody the courage, positivity, and indomitable will that defined our inspiration, Nancy Falco. We are all #TeamAlex and we will show our support September 12th at Dancer’s Unite Against Cancer where we will present our 2015 Nancy Falco Fund Recipient Alex Richards! Hope to see you all there!