Nathan Charles Norman is a 6-year-old boy who knows quite a lot about heroes and villains.
His heroes wear uniforms. Police, firefighters, EMTs and any other emergency responder. They show up when there’s trouble, help and sometimes save people. They have Nathan’s unending admiration.
Nathan also knows about villains, because he’s fought one nearly his whole life.
Nathan was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was three. An operation removed a little more than half the tumor, which continues to grow. Doctors later found an inoperable spinal cord tumor. Even chemotherapy, the latest round of which is ongoing, does not stop the progression of Nathan’s disease, only slows it temporarily, according to his mother, Dawn Norman.
“We know that after these meds are completed that most likely we would just be looking at clinical trials,” she said in a recent blog post about Nathan’s condition. “But for now we will press forward with the chemo regimen he is on.”
The story of the Norman family, who live in Rustburg, Va., caught the attention of Wall Township Police Sgt. Joseph Wilbert, who spearheaded an effort to make one of Nathan’s Christmas wishes come true.
For Christmas, the 5-year-old is asking his heroes to send him and his siblings —Sarah, 9, Matthew, 7 and Tabitha, 2 — cards, inspirational letters, badges, challenge coins or anything with a first responder insignia.
Wilbert heard Nathan’s story from a friend in the State Police and, with the help and encouragement of his wife and 4-year-old daughter and the permission of Police Chief Robert Brice, sent out a request to first responders throughout Monmouth County to help make Nathan’s wish come true.
“We’re collecting items from emergency responders at the police station and through correspondence with the family, we’re going to be able to deliver the messages personally sometime in January,” Wilbert said. “We’re very excited about that.’’
Nathan’s story has been passed around numerous emergency responder agencies throughout the country, Dawn Nathan said. The response has been enormous.
“So many of these heroes have been mailing our little 6-year-old boy to tell him how brave and courageous he is and how much of a hero he is,’’ Dawn Nathan said. “Sarah, Matthew, and Tabitha have also been receiving badges from some telling how strong and brave they are.”
After beginning another round of chemotherapy in September, Nathan asked his father if the family could put up the Christmas tree early. He told his father that the lights made him feel better.
The family has been celebrating Christmas ever since.
Nathan’s story and updates on his and the family’s condition can be found online by clicking here.
Cards, letters, insignia and well-wishes of all kinds are being collected at the Wall Township Police Department, 2700 Allaire Rd.