CINCINNATI — Dedra Klotzbach announced on social media Thursday that "God gained the best angel."
Her son, Hudson, died March 2 following his hard-fought battle against cancer.
The 5-year-old had Wilms kidney cancer. He was diagnosed with stage 4 Wilms in December 2021 at just 3 years old. While it is the most common kidney cancer in children, Klotzbach was battling the most severe form of it.
Because Cincinnati Children's Hospital specializes in Wilms treatment, Klotzbach's family uprooted from their Knoxville home to Northern Kentucky so Tri-State doctors could care for him.
He had beaten the odds for more than a year, undergoing several rounds of chemo, radiation, transfusions and surgeries.
"We've been given hours to days numerous times," Dedra Klotzbach said. "He has brought himself back up each time."
On Nov. 22, 2022, when Klotzbach was weeks away from remission, his tumors grew back. Despite getting promising results on Jan. 17 that the tumor had shrunk over 50%, doctors discovered the tumor had not only grown back but was bigger than ever before one week later. With the size of the tumor, surgery was too risky to attempt.
His family has been bracing for the unimaginable ever since, and on Feb. 27, Dedra said things reached their lowest point.
"It got more real for us as his oxygen has dipped and he's now sitting in the 50s and at times it's hard for him to be able to breathe," she previously said. "We do believe now it is hours to days."
Days have been hard for the Klotzbachs, so the community has rallied to make moments a little brighter.
There's a Facebook support group chronicling Klotzbach's journey with nearly 7,000 members. His family launched a GoFundMe last March, which has since raised nearly $35,000 dollars.
But perhaps the biggest support came in the form of a special "Who Dey" from Klotzbach's favorites in orange and black.
Linebacker Vinney Rey, safety Brandon Wilson, cornerback Allan George and center Ted Karras got an emergency call the morning of Feb. 3 that Klotzbach needed a little help from the friends he watched on Sundays.
"You never want to take for granted the impact football has on people's lives. And when the team shared the story with me and the details and wanted a player to come, I jumped all over that," Karras said. "I just wanted to make sure we could make that wish come true."
The surprise Bengals visit brought hope to the 5-year-old's fight.
"He's a really strong kid," George said. "I love the spirit that he had while we were in the room. I was really glad he was happy to see us because we were happy to see him."
The family has a lot to shoulder, so the hope now is to help relieve some of the financial burden. That's why loved ones are ready to walk, and even run, into a new role as "Hudson's Heroes."
"The Klotzbach family is so deserving of a benefit. We just wanted to create an event so that the community could express our love to them and show them support," said Danielle Giannini, a family friend.
Giannini organized the "Hudson's Heroes 5K Family Run/Walk," which is set to take place Saturday, April 22 at Thornwilde Elementary in Hebron.
"Just show your support and love and get to know other people and have a good time," Dedra said.
The race will kick off at 10 a.m. and will wrap up with food trucks, face paintings and other family-friendly activities.
Giannini is still looking for sponsors and participants. You can choose to sponsor without running the race.
The registration fee is $25 per person. Proceeds will go toward Klotzbach's medical expenses.