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Kyler's friends turn focus to finding a cure

Posted: 6:53 PM, Apr 12, 2016
Updated: 2016-04-13 17:48:23-04
Fairfield boy fighting DIPG taken off ventilator
Fairfield boy fighting DIPG taken off ventilator

FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio — A community mourned Tuesday evening after of a boy battling a rare, aggressive form of pediatric brain cancer was taken off life-support and passed away.

The Fairfield community has rallied in recent months around 10-year-old Kyler Bradley, who was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, commonly known as DIPG — the same form of cancer Lauren Hill battled.

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Wednesday, family friends said they were turning their focus to finding a cure. Tova Murray is spearheading the sale of "Kyler Strong" T-shirts, which raise money for DIPG research.

"We have to carry on Kyler's name," Murray said. "We have to carry on Kyler's legacy."

At Kyler's school, Fairfield Intermediate, counselors were available for students who needed someone to talk to Wednesday. Fire Chief Tim Thomas said everyone was taking the loss personally.

"We deal with tragedy on a regular basis, so we manage our 'public persona,' if you will. But it still hurts, and we still grieve along with the family," Thomas said.

Kyler’s mother, Rebecca, posted to Facebook over the weekend that the boy was put on a ventilator after his heart rate increased and his blood pressure plummeted.

His family took Kyler off the ventilator on Tuesday evening, just a few hours before he passed away.

He was also fighting a case of pneumonia at the time, Rebecca said.

Fairfield firefighters and other community members gathered outside the Bradleys’ home Tuesday evening to hold a vigil.

The family's pastor, Drew Wilkerson, offered some comforting words to family and friends, still gathered outside after Kyler's passing.

"Kyler is now in heaven with God celebrating, free of pain and suffering," he said. 

But the pain won't go away quickly by any means, said Fairfield Fire Chief Tim Thomas: "For us, it's like losing any other member of our family," he said.

"It's very tough."

The Bradley family had developed a close relationship with the local fire department: Kyler had often talked about wanting to become a firefighter when he grew up. When Kyler returned home from being hospitalized around the turn of the year, he was given an escort home by the Fairfield Fire Department.

Here's a slideshow created by the Kyler Strong Facebook page, capturing Kyler's return home from the hospital in January:

Ultimately, family and friends said they will remember the boy as an inspiration.

Tearful classmates filled the Bradley's front yard during Tuesday night's vigil. Caleb Philpott, Kyler's friend and classmate for years, fought back tears upon hearing the news of Kyler's passing.

“I have been friends with him since I was in kindergarten,” he said. “Sad… he really didn’t want to get this way.”

Another friend, Madison McDowell, recalled Kyler’s kindness. “He was a sweet boy. He had a kind heart, and I know that he will be missed.”

“I never met a young person who’s so strong,” said family friend, Cathy Blevins, tearfully. “But I know I will see him again, and he will be well.”