Athens Fourth Grader to be “Honored Hero” at Light the Night Walk

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ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) - Tom Bauer is a nine-year-old fourth grader at Athens Elementary School. His favorite subject is science, but he also excels at math.

Tom also loves to design and build, whether with the video game, Minecraft, or with LEGOs. He says he may grow up to be an architect, but for now he is perfectly happy in his role as student.

Tom was home-schooled for most of second grade after doctors diagnosed the then-seven-year-old boy with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in September 2012.

Doctors told the Bauer family the cure rate for this type of blood cancer was high, but Tom would need to start aggressive chemo therapy immediately.

The initial treatments were difficult for Tom and his parents.

"I couldn't really walk and stuff," said Tom. "I couldn't really push myself up. It was just tough."

"The first couple of initial treatments were hard on him and he was having trouble walking," said Tom's mother, Kris. "I thought, 'I don't know if I can do this for three years.'"

Shortly after he began chemo, Tom started to lose his hair, but family friends made hats for him to wear.

"I really didn't like being bald, but I kind of like the design of the hats and stuff," said Tom. "I just was kind of nervous about how I felt and stuff and like how people would react to it."

Despite their fears, Kris says Tom and the Bauer family faced the leukemia head on with positivity.

"We didn't make it part of our main part of our life. It's there and it's something that we have to deal with, like all families have things to deal with, but we just dealt with it as we had to."

More than two years after his initial diagnosis, Tom is in the maintenance phase of his plan at Children's of Alabama. Once a month he travels to Birmingham for treatment, usually missing just one day of school.

His last scheduled treatment is set for December 27, 2015.

Tom will be recognized Thursday, October 30, at the first-ever Light the Night Walk in Huntsville as an "Honored Hero."

"It's kind of cool being the 'Honored Hero,'" said Tom. "I feel pretty excited about it."

The walk will start at 5:30 pm at the Huntsville Depot and Museum.

Leslie Anderson Vallely will be recognized as the night's "Memorial Honoree."


Click here for registration and more information.

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