BATH TOWNSHIP — Superintendent Rich Dackin, eighth grader Lauren Cunningham and kindergartner Mason Jackson joined together at Bath schools’ annual Relay for Life walk to prove that no one diagnosed with cancer has to walk alone.
Cunningham, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014, reached out to Jackson and Dackin to see if they would want to walk a lap together at the event.
Dackin, who is in his first year as superintendent, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in December. He has since completed two months of chemotherapy and three weeks of radiation. Jackson, 6, is currently undergoing treatment for a Wilms tumor found on his kidney in March.
“I asked if I could walk with Mason and Mr. Dackin because I think it’s important to show that we all have battled cancer, and we’re all walking together in support of each other,” Cunningham, 14, said. “It shows that no one fights alone. It proves that the Bath community supports each other.”
Cunningham, who is in remission, reached out to the Jackson family when she heard of Mason’s diagnosis. The two now regularly video chat and share photos.
“We got a text from the principal at Bath that Lauren was a former student at the elementary who had cancer and she wanted to know if she could meet Mason and talk with him,” Mason’s dad, Charles Jackson, said. “Her and her parents have shared stories of the struggles they went through. We’re going through a lot of the same things, and it just gives us hope to know that it’s not just him.”
Jackson is now back to playing baseball on days where he doesn’t have treatment.
“On Monday after my test, I only have five more days of treatment,” Jackson happily shared, wearing his “Mason Strong” T-shirt.
After completing his lap with Cunningham and Dackin, Jackson jetted off with his classmates to do another lap.
“The last few weeks have been better, I think we’re finally getting into a better place,” Charles said. “He’s 6, so he knows what’s going on, but I don’t think he knows some of the things, we have to battle to get his to eat or take medicine … Today his stomach hurt, and he didn’t want to do anything, but he got his medicine, and now he’s out here running on the track.”
Charles said Bath schools and community continued to support his family throughout the last few months. In September, the entire district gathered to snap a photo with everyone in the shape of a ribbon and signed the poster to give to Mason.
“Bath has been amazing. They’ve all been drawing pictures, he’s been getting get well cards from class and notes from them, we’re getting texts from family members,” Charles said. “He’s definitely loved by the school.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.