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Time to give: Decorate for Dax

For some, Christmas is coming early this year. And for some, it won’t come at all.

For Dax Locke, it is both.

The 28-month-old Washington resident is suffering from a rare form of leukemia, and three weeks ago, his parents received the phone call they feared.

The doctors said there was nothing more they could do and Dax would likely live only four to six weeks. Chances Dax will make it to Christmas are dismal.

“It was quite a shock,” said Trish Hurtgen, a family friend, who, with her husband, passed out fliers and created the Web site

“After they absorbed that information, they decided they would celebrate Christmas every single day,” she said. “We found out they were putting up their Christmas tree, and we decided to put up our lights to show that we were in support of them.”

Hurtgen requested the Scout not call Dax’s parents because it’s a particularly rough time. However, it’s not all tears.

When she passed out fliers asking the neighborhood to decorate, there was an overwhelming response. And it didn’t just stay in their subdivision.

People all over Peoria are putting up lights in support of Dax, and the family drives around each night to view them.

“Word just spread,” Hurtgen said. “From there, my husband created the Web site so people who were outside of the neighborhood could decorate and post their pictures.”

Support for Dax became visible on campus this week when Delta Upsilon put up a strand of lights with Dax’s name.

DU decided to get involved partially because their philanthropy is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the hospital at which Dax was treated, said Jeff Kauther, a DU member who helped decorate the house.

DU members also spoke about it at an Interfraternity Council meeting and urged other greeks to become involved. Since then, Sigma Nu and Theta Chi have decorated, and Kauther said other houses plan to become aglow.

“We’re kind of hoping to get all of greek row lit up – that’s the big push,” Kauther said. “We can raise a lot of money [for St. Jude], but at the same time, we can put up a lot of lights and help make this kid’s day better. It’s completely worth it.”

The Web site has received pictures from almost every state, and also Switzerland, Germany and Afghanistan.

A Brownie troop caroled to Dax, the Festival of Lights lent Dax’s neighbors a float and businesses have shown support.

Dax’s mom said he loves it.

“When we were driving into the hospital … he was pointing at all the Christmas lights,” she wrote on her Weblog. “They bring him so much joy.”

With more than 62,000 site hits in two weeks, this has become more

than a small community story. It’s become a movement, and it’s likely Dax isn’t the only beneficiary.

Hurtgen explained to me that this is bringing back the true meaning of Christmas, because it’s all about generosity, doing things for others and expecting nothing in return. And she’s right.

Hearing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” one too many times can make it easy to be negative about the holidays.

But a little boy with leukemia and a couple friendly neighbors have shown that Christmas isn’t just a Hallmark holiday. And it’s shown that it doesn’t have to be Christmas Day to give a present.

So why not help?

In addition to decorating, Hurtgen also said St. Jude is in need of donations, and blood and plasma donations are needed.

You can donate to St. Jude through the Decorate for Dax site. Campus’ next blood drive is the Megan Fong Memorial Blood Drive is noon to 6 p.m. Dec. 3 in the Markin Family Student Recreation Center. Talecris Plasma Center is located on Sheridan.

Christmas magic really is like the bell in “The Polar Express.” The bell is always ringing, but choosing to listen is a decision.

Emily Regenold is a senior journalism major from Cincinnati. She is the Scout managing editor.
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