OSWEGO, NY – Breitbeck Park was alive Sunday afternoon with music, a children’s parade, food and plenty of family-friendly activities.
In 2015, Julian Ross couldn’t go to DisneyWorld — so a cadre of volunteers brought DisneyWorld to Oswego.
Julian Thomas Ross, 10, came into our lives on May 15, 2005.
He was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma on August 4, 2011. He was just 6 years old.
On August 8, 2015, Julian was called home.
Julian was in the hospital and unable to attend last year’s event. His mother, Kristi, shared the activities with him via a video chat on her phone.
This year, she shared the 10-year-old’s final wishes with the hundreds that descended on Breitbeck Park.
It was a simple, yet powerful, wish. “Help others.”
“Julian had very much wanted to go to DisneyWorld. But he never made it. So, I had a crazy idea, if he can’t get there, let’s bring DisneyWorld to him – we can turn Breitbeck Park into Julian’s World for the day,” said organizer Ruth Wallace. “Now I want to continue the even in his memory.”
“Walt Julian’s World, this is his ‘Forever 10 Party’ to raise (childhood) cancer awareness,” Wallace told Oswego County Today. “We have Disney characters, games, prizes, Air-Hop, race car drivers, sno-cones, balloon animals – a little bit of everything.”
Two hundred balloons were released at the start of the event, to send messages to Julian in Heaven.
“We are sending messages to Heaven, because Julian is not with us this year. I thought 200 would be an adequate number. It would be highly noticeable. We thought it would be a pretty awesome way for the kids to understand what’s going on,” Wallace explained. “We’ve been blowing up balloons for about six hours.”
She thanked all the volunteers and everyone who donated to the cause.
“This is a very, very important event and (the mayor) wanted to make sure somebody from the city was here to recognize the good work you’re doing here,” Seventh Ward Councilor Robert Corradino (council vice president) told the crowd. “Cancer certainly is a bad, bad thing. It probably has struck everybody here in one way or another.”
A few years back, one of the councilor’s friends lost his battle with a form of cancer.
“It’s pretty sad when it happens to anybody. But, it’s especially insidious when it happens to a child. Nothing could be worse.”
Corradino said he never met Julian. “But he’d probably say, ‘It is such a great day, a politician shouldn’t be talking. We should all have a good time.’ So let’s all have a good time and enjoy the beautiful weather,” he said.
Julian’s mother thanked everyone for coming out to remember him.
“I know that he is not here with us today. But I am sure that he is smiling down because we are doing exactly what he requested and that is to keep fighting (childhood cancer) and never give up.”
Last year, Julian picked the SPCA to donate funds to “because he just loved animals.
“This year, we chose for him. The Beads of Courage Program was very, very important to him,” his mother explained.
There is a bead for every procedure that these kids go through. Julian had more than 2,500 beads on his string over the course of four years and he was mighty proud of them.
“The most horrific thing is that when people saw them and didn’t know what they were, they’d remark how beautiful they were,” she told Oswego County Today. “When you turned around and told them exactly what they were, they don’t become very beautiful. It’s a very in your face of showing everything these kids went through and everything they battled.”
Depending on who you donate to, only about 4% of the funds go to childhood cancer research, Wallace pointed out.
The rest is for adults.
“That’s wonderful,” she said. “But 4% seems a little low. It was low for Julian and it’s low for his friends who are still battling cancer today.”
Julian completed just about everything on his bucket list.
Just one item remained to be checked off – he wanted to continue to raise awareness about childhood cancer.
“So that’s what we’re going to do for him,” Wallace vowed.
Several young children were invited on stage to share what they’d have on their bucket list.
Some said they didn’t know. One said, “Save all the dogs that are in shelters.” Another replied, “Save the people suffering cancer.”
And, one said, “More than 4%!”
To learn more about Julian, visit https://www.facebook.com/JuliansJoust