BURRILLVILLE, R.I. (WPRI) – A young boy battling Leukemia got a very special birthday treat Thursday. Tyler Seddon is turning seven, and his mother’s wish was for cards from first responders. Since then, he’s received much more from departments all across the nation.
Tyler Seddon is currently fighting his second fight against acute lymphoblastic leukemia. First diagnosed in 2010, Tyler won the first bout when his cancer went into remission in July 2012, but his mother said it came back last November. Now, Tyler’s mother says she is searching for matching donors for bone marrow transplants that doctors say Tyler will need over the course of his treatment.
His story made national headlines when his mother, Rachel Seddon-Dunn, used social media to request birthday cards from police officers and firefighters from across the country. Her efforts quickly went viral, and – in addition to sending hundreds of cards – a huge group of first responders decided to take a special interest in the Rhode Island child.
When Tyler woke up Thursday morning, he was greeted by a member of the Burrillville Police Department; then, he embarked on a birthday adventure that included at least 185 police vehicles, 12 police motorcycles, 30 pieces of fire apparatus and – of course – hundreds of first responders from as far away as California cheering him on.
Rachel said she tried hard to make this year’s birthday party one he would remember, and that she is thankful so many people offered their collective support.
“You never know. You have to make it special, because you just don’t know,” she said.
Tyler’s Birthday Celebration: Schedule of Events
7:30 a.m. – Participating first responders, firefighters, police officers and military members met up at either Burlington Mall in Burlington or Ponkapoag Golf Course in Canton. The two groups converged outside the Canton Police Department on Washington Street. From there, the convoy will head to Rhode Island via I-95.
8:45 a.m. – A member of the Burrillville Police Department picked up Tyler at his home. Tyler and the police officer traveled to the Burrillville Police station, where the department gave Tyler is own police uniform.
9 a.m. – Burrillville Police Chief Col. Stephen Lynch swore Tyler in as the Burrillville Police Chief for the Day. Tyler had a chance to sit in the chief’s chair and tour the station.
9:50 a.m. – Tyler was driven in a police cruiser to A.T. Levy School, where his classmates were waiting outside to see him.
10:15 a.m. – Tyler was driven to Wright’s Farm restaurant in Harrisville, where he was greeted and honored by more than 250 first responders.
An outpouring of support
Even before his elaborate birthday celebration, his mother said Tyler already received an outpouring of support from both local community members and perfect strangers alike.
The law enforcement theme of his upcoming party came to life because Tyler’s mother said he has always “loved everything about” police officers. Tyler received hundreds of birthday cards in the mail and hundreds more via via social media.
Police stations across the country, including the Los Angeles PD and the Miami-Dade PD, posted YouTube videos to wish him a happy birthday, and a fundraising website in Tyler’s name has raised more than $16,000 since it launched in November.
In his two fights against leukemia, Tyler has undergone more than 45 surgeries and used more than 200 units of blood products, according to the website created by his family. But, his supporters say, he remains positive.
“While this is Tyler’s second battle with this monster, we are optimistic,” the website says. “With everything he’s been through, he still keeps on smiling.”
The Rhode Island Blood Center is asking that registered donors have their contact information up-to-date. They say four matches have been found for Tyler, but they don’t have current contact information and can’t seem to locate the donors.