How a 4-year-old boy changed a community

Community members rallied around a 4-year-old boy who had only a short time left on earth.

How a 4-year-old boy changed a community

Community members rallied around a 4-year-old boy who had only a short time left on earth.
  • A 4-year-old boy changed a community as they rallied around him preceding his exit from life.

  • Ethan Van Leuven was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was just 22 months old. After numerous treatments, remissions and relapses, doctors told them the treatments were not working. The cancer was spreading out of control.

  • When the family knew he had only a few days up to several weeks left on earth, they found their community supported and rallied around them. Ethan and his family were able to celebrate his birthday, Halloween and Christmas - their last celebrations as a whole family - in one week with the help of their neighbors and friends.

  • Ethan dressed up as Superman and went trick-or-treating a week and a half early. They celebrated his 5th birthday a month early. His favorite holiday, Christmas, as well as Christmas Eve were even on the list. His mother, Jen, said they wanted to do it while he still felt good enough to enjoy it.

  • Sadly, Ethan slipped into the next life the morning of October 28, 2014. Even though he has passed on, his memory has changed the hearts of a community that worked together to cheer up a little boy in his final days.

  • His father, Merrill, expressed his faith after his son's passing on his Facebook page, "We are so grateful that each of you has helped in some way along this journey. Ethan is at peace now and will no longer battle with disease. He has passed his mortal test and will return to live with Heavenly Father for eternity. How grateful we are for the Atonement of Jesus Christ who makes this possible....How grateful we are for having him in our family for these few years. We will post more information later. God bless you all! You each have a special place in our hearts for all the good you do!"

  • Neighbors and friends made a difference in Ethan's and his family's life. But, Ethan's life had a permanent impact on the hearts of his community.

  • Death can be a difficult subject to talk about and it may be hard to know how to help those who have lost a loved one. Read these articles for some advice and direction:

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Wendy is a regular contributor for and does media reviews. Website: for victims of sexual abuse. Blog: Twitter: @WendyJessen


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