DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – March Madness officially kicks off tonight, but today in the Lake Highlands area of Dallas — Malik Madness is already in full swing! This ‘mad’ event is a bit different — Malik Madness is an effort by the community to help a fifth-grader battling lymphoma.
Malik Little’s story continues to resonate through the halls of Merriman Park Elementary. After all – how do you explain such a “mature” illness to little kids?
“Cancer can happen and it can also hurt you unexpectedly,” 5th grader Trinity Malott said of the disease. “So, it’s kind of scary when you see this really friendly boy. Then the next day you hear he’s got cancer. It’s kind of scary.”
Those fears are exactly why the community is rallying around Malik, who was diagnosed with the blood cancer in January.
While the Malik and his mother have remained remarkably positive — the community is trying to help the family with their medical bills. That’s how “Malik Madness” was born.
“It has been amazing! Our students have really rallied behind one of their own,” Merriman principal Katie Kirkpatrick said excitedly. “It’s been as you said tugging at heart strings and touching to see how much they care about their classmates and how much they want to support him during what’s obviously a difficult time.”
Some of Malik’s classmates are selling t-shirts and wristbands to help raise money. Tuesday night Malik is expected to attend the Lake Highlands varsity basketball game — to watch his favorite sport.
The fundraising also includes a raffle, but the school is accepting donations of all sizes.
Student Ella Wentzel recently visited Malik in the hospital. “It makes me feel good to know that he’s doing great and that he feels like nothing’s wrong with him. He feels like he’s getting nothing done to him [and that] he’s just in the hospital for no reason.”
Amazingly, Malik’s story isn’t the first case of cancer at the school in the last year – or even the second. A kindergarten teacher at Merriman was diagnosed with leukemia last May. Thankfully, she is now in remission. There was also a second-grader diagnosed with leukemia in the Fall. That little girl was declared cancer free recently.
Now everyone in Lake Highlands is hoping for a similar outcome for Malik.
Lucy LaVinge, a 10-year-old 5th grader at Merriman, expressed the sentiments of everyone. “It makes you feel sad, because he’s your friend and you don’t know what’s going to happen. But hopefully… you hope that he’s going to make it through and that he’s going to be cancer free very soon.”
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