CLAXTON—A Clinton boy battling brain cancer for the second time received more than 100 pounds of birthday mail and gifts on Saturday from well-wishers across the country, including Peyton Manning and Johnny Majors. Joseph Dillman, who turned 10 on Thursday, also got to sit in a Dukes of Hazzard car, enjoy a visit from Claxton firefighters and a monster truck, and sit court side to watch a youth basketball game.
His favorite part of the day?
“Everybody coming to my birthday,” said the fourth-grade basketball player, who has attended South Clinton Elementary School but is now homebound. “Thank you to everyone.”
Joseph is a Florida Gators fan who loves “The Dukes of Hazzard” television show.
“He has every episode,” said his mother, Mary Dillman of Clinton.
Friends and family had an earlier event for Joseph a few years ago, organizer Kayla Boone said. Mary Dillman said Joseph was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, and the medduloblastoma returned in May 2014.
On Saturday, volunteers had auctions, raffled off cakes, and sold concessions to help pay for Joseph’s medical and travel expenses.
“We want to raise as much awareness as we can,” Boone said.
She said Joseph recently finished proton therapy, but she couldn’t comment on his prognosis.
Stan Ferguson, owner of The Mail Center in Oak Ridge, said organizers presented Joseph with 124 pounds of mail and gifts on Saturday. The mail came from across the country— including Alaska, California, Maine, and Texas—and local organizations like Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex.
About 95 percent of the 1,500 birthday cards printed by The Mail Center were returned to Joseph, Ferguson said.
Family friend Brian “Juicebox” Bruce of Powell said his nephew went through a battle similar to Joseph’s.
Bruce said Joseph, who wore a blue-and-orange Florida Gators hat and an orange-and-white CCFL Basketball shirt on Saturday, received gifts that included art sets, coloring books, stuffed animals, and a quilt. There were a number of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys as well, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles poster hung on the wall.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Bruce said of Joseph Dillman Day. “It shows how strong the community is.”
“He’s my hero,” Bruce said of Joseph. “He’s very heroic.”
Asked what the community could do to help, Mary Dillman responded: Just pray for him.
“I want Joseph’s name coming from every lip in America straight to Jesus,” she said.
More information will be added as it becomes available.