HELENA, Ala. (WIAT) — A 12-year-old boy from Helena is battling a rare illness, and his family is rallying to help him fulfill his dream of going to Disney World.
Sawyer Kimbriel just turned 12, and like most of his fellow fifth-grade boys, he loves Marvel, playing sports and messing with his brother.
But unlike his classmates, Sawyer’s life has been punctuated by doctor visits and trips to the ER.
“Any little fever, any little cold or anything puts him in the hospital,” said Sawyer’s mom Jennifer Kimbriel.
Sawyer was born with a rare condition called Central Conducting Lymphatic Anomaly. That means he has thousands of small leaks in his lymphatic system, spilling fluid into his chest.
“His lungs basically stay partially collapsed, which makes it hard to breathe in general, and then definitely hard to do everyday things like climbing a flight of stairs,” Kimbriel said.
What makes the diagnosis even more difficult, Kimbriel added, is that there’s no cure or exact treatment — except for trial and error, including forms of Chemotherapy and painful surgeries.
In 2019, Sawyer had to be airlifted to a hospital in Philadelphia to get examined by a team of specialists, spending months away from home.
“Living with this is definitely hard, and I’m thankful I’m able to deal with it so well and have such support around me to help me through it,” Sawyer said.
Now, Sawyer’s feeling a little better and is back at school. The Kimbriels hope a new medication will help too — but they’re also hoping they can take him to Disney World while he still feels well enough to go.
“To get him out of the hospital, to get him out of the doctors, just to be a kid,” Kimbriel said.
Through the non-profit Campaign One at a Time, they’re trying to raise $5,000 to send Sawyer on the trip of his dreams to Disney World, Universal Studios and the Give Kids the World Village Resort.
Sawyer’s parents said they just want to give a piece of childhood back to their son who always stays brave no matter what.
“You almost never see him without a smile on his face, even in the hospital, he’s full of laughter, full of smiles, cracking jokes with the nurses,” Kimbriel said.
“You can always find hope and brightness through dark situations,” Sawyer said.
To learn more about Sawyer’s story, head to Campaign One at a Time’s website.