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‘Lil Bama’ Celebrates 8th Birthday Despite Brain Cancer

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -  This is a very special week for a boy in Athens who WHNT NEWS 19 has been following for months.

Today, Friday, December 28th is Ryan Kitchens' eighth birthday.

What makes this birthday so special is that Ryan wasn't expected to live to see it.

Instead, Ryan has been extra busy over the last few weeks, buying and delivering toys for less fortunate children, making new friends, goofing off and just being a typical kid.

"How are you feeling?" WHNT NEWS 19's Beth Jett asked Ryan when he visited the station.  "Good," he answered.

It's remarkable, since his doctors didn't think he'd live to see Christmas.

Ryan is in a fierce battle with two tumors on his brain.

He beat them months ago, but they came back and have grown in size, causing him excrutiating headaches.

"Oh, it's been a hard hard year," said Jasmine Davis, Ryan's mother.  "After thinking your child's been cured and less than 10 to 12 weeks later, to have your child again have it worse than they had it the first time and then he's on Hospice.  That was a huge wake-up call because that only means one thing."

But Ryan fought back with faith, fun, and determination to live, supported by the power of prayer from thousands of people following his story.

"There's gotta be a reason why he's still here," said Jasmine.

Ryan's doctors warned her that her youngest child and only son would only grow weaker quickly and likely wouldn't be around for his next birthday.

They were wrong.

December 28th brings another milestone: he's now eight years old.

"He's just.. feeling amazing and acting like his old self again," said Jasmine.  "Running, I can barely keep up with him."

Ryan is better known as 'Lil Bama,' around Alabama and beyond.  He stays energized by his love for University of Alabama Crimson Tide football.

Earlier this year, expecting he didn't have much time left, Ryan insisted on making his final arrangements, picking out a crimson casket.

But the casket will have to wait, because he's having too much fun living.

Ryan's next medical appointment is at the end of January.

You may have noticed his crimson shirt with white letters on it, spelling out "RYAN".

His mother teamed up with a company to sell them, putting the proceeds towards a foundation that will help other families deal with cancer.

If you'd like to purchase one, you can order one by calling Suzette Michelle Boutique in Moulton.  Their number is 256.445.2035.

The foundation will be Ryan's legacy to help others long after he's gone.