MORNINGSIDE — Fire truck sirens blasted outside of Benjamin D. Foulois Creative and Performing Arts Academy, children screamed and cheered as loudly as they could, TV cameras swarmed the school grounds and dancers, singers and musicians preformed all morning. It was Chloe Williams day – literally. Williams is a student at Benjamin Foulois who is […]
MORNINGSIDE — Fire truck sirens blasted outside of Benjamin D. Foulois Creative and Performing Arts Academy, children screamed and cheered as loudly as they could, TV cameras swarmed the school grounds and dancers, singers and musicians preformed all morning. It was Chloe Williams day – literally.
Williams is a student at Benjamin Foulois who is battling a rare form of brain cancer that has knocked her down a couple of times but hasn’t doused her fighting spirit, and it’s that spirit the academy celebrated Friday morning in a pep rally to welcome her back after a month away in the hospital.
Williams started her first day back to school since her absence with a ride on a firetruck to make her grand entrance. Students decked out in custom t-shirts reading “Team Chloe” and “Stronger than cancer,” held yellow roses and ribbons (Chloe’s favorite color) to welcome her back to the Foulois family.
Accompanied by her parents, Williams made her way into the school to shouts of excitement and an escort of firemen. As she rolled into the school’s gymnasium she was greeted with tremendous cheers, entrance music and even Ronald McDonald. Morningside’s mayor was there. The town police chief and county fire chief were there and so was every member of her school.
“Everyone that we thought of and could reach out to was able to make it today and did so much for us, did so much for Chloe,” said Foulois Principal Matthew McCrea. “Cancer has touched all of us. I haven’t been able to find a single person that wasn’t stricken by cancer in some shape or form. Knowing how big of an impact it can have and knowing the struggle that people with cancer can go through, we knew how much support Chloe needed in this time and we knew that we had to do everything we could for her.”
Williams was diagnosed with Anaplastic Ependymomain October 2012 when she was just three years old. Since then she has undergone three brains surgeries and three spinal surgeries. Her most recent surgery was to remove a tumor that was causing balance, walking and gastrointestinal problems because it was compressing her spinal cord.
She continues to undergo treatment for her cancer, which has come back after each remission, her parents Maurice and Aneesah Williams said. The cancer is currently in both her brain and spine.
“She’s been fighting for so long, since 2012. And we’re just praying that Chloe is going to beat this thing,” her dad said. “As a parent, you can’t plan, this wasn’t in the plan for how life is supposed to be. So, it’s been very difficult, but God has kept us together.”
“I’m just grateful for each and every moment and we’re definitely trying to maximize the days and just enjoy them and have fun to the fullest,” Aneesah said.
The Williams describe their daughter as a feisty little girl who has a sassy and fighting spirit. She loves to dance, sing, and giggle. She is all about having fun and enjoying life.
“She’s like the sunshine,” Aneesah said.
Despite a tough fight the Williams have exhausted traditional treatment options such as chemotherapy and radiation and they are currently seeking a specialized treatment not covered by health insurance.
“We have just exhausted all the traditional treatment options. She’s had chemo, she’d had two rounds radiation. We’ve been to St. Jude in Tennessee. We’ve been all over and, you know, this thing has just been relentless,” Maurice said.
During the pep rally Friday Williams was named Fire Chief for the Day, the mayor of Morningside declared the day Chloe Williams Day, the school presented her with baskets of goodies and gifts, McDonald’s of Greater Washington, D.C presented the family with a check and the students of Foulois preformed their hearts out for her.
Lisa Johnson, Williams’ first grade teacher, was part of a committee dedicated to getting sponsors for the day and for the Williams family. She said the pep rally was a collective effort for the school to show Williams just how much they love and support her.
“We’re just so glad that it turned out to be as big as it did, so she can see how big our love is for her,” she said. “I think it shows her that she means a lot to us and for the kids, being able to have the opportunity to show her she means a lot, is important to them.”
Lena Pitts, Nevaeh Barino and Donovan Woodward, first graders at the performing arts academy, spoke over each other excitedly when asked to describe Williams. They called her funny, nice and someone who makes them laugh.
“I think she’s like a ray of sunshine that lives in my heart,” Pitts said.
All three were sad to know she has cancer and said they definitely wanted to be a part of her pep rally. They said they enjoyed performing for her, handing out t-shirts to the family and presenting her with a giant, yellow, paper flower.
“She has cancer, so we want to make it up to her, so she will forget she has cancer,” Pitts said.
“We love you Chloe and we hope you can come back to school next year,” Barino said.
McCrea said he isn’t an outwardly emotional guy, but he, as well as many in attendance at the pep rally, had to hold back tears as they celebrated Williams. During the entire event Maurice filmed the performances and his daughter’s reaction and Aneesah doted on her daughter and relished in the moment.
“This is amazing. This is more than I could imagine,” Aneesah said. “This is just above and beyond anything I could have expected for her. I’m so touched and so grateful and thankful to all those that put this together. I know this means a lot to Chloe. This is just the greatest day.”
To read more about Chloe’s journey and to donate to her cancer treatment you can go to her family’s GoFundMe.com: https://www.gofundme.com/vpvc7y3w