Dying Boy Has a Christmas Wish

Six-year-old Nathan Norman has terminal cancer and is reaching out to policemen, firemen and all emergency service workers to fulfill his final Christmas wish.

Editor's Note (Dec. 14, 2012): An earlier version of this story stated that Nathan has been given 18 months to live. According to an email from a close friend of his family, the 18-month timeline is in fact for his chemotherapy. This story has been updated accordingly.

Editor's Note (Dec. 13, 2012): The Norman family has posted photos on Facebook showing the hundreds of packages they have received from around the country for Nathan. They are asking that people hold off on sending packages for a little while. You can visit Nathan's Facebook page as well as the Normans' site on Caringbridge.org for more information.

The only thing on Dawn Norman's wish list this holiday season is that her six-year old son Nathan lives to see another Christmas, and that his wish of receiving cards, letters and patches from as many policemen, firemen and EMT's is fulfilled. Why? Because policemen, firemen and EMT's happen to be Nathan's heroes.

Three years ago, Nathan, who lives with his family in Rustburg, Virginia, was diagnosed with brain cancer.

"I remember the doctor saying that there was an abnormality," Dawn Norman remembers. "The doctor kept telling me over and over that there was an abnormality and then it hit me. He was telling me that my son had cancer."  

An operation removed 55 percent of the tumor; however, Nathan has since developed an inoperable tumor on his spinal cord. Since his original diagnosis, he has been on six different chemotherapy treatments and has had three surgeries.

Like most little boys, Nathan loves to watch cops, firemen and emergency medical personnel speed to calls in shiny cars and trucks—sirens blaring and lights flashing—making no stops as they race to save people. 

This Christmas, Nathan is calling upon these heroes to make his wish come true by sending him cards, letters and patches—anything with a first responder insignia.

Nathan's story was brought to Patch by Walt Hutchinson, an officer with the Bergen County Sheriff's Department, who learned about it from Sgt. Robert Carpentieri of the Virginia State Police.

"One of our life-saving crew members told us Nathan's story and said it would be a nice gesture to send him a card," Carpentieri said.

Carpentieri not only sent a card, but sent emails to almost every first responder he knew to do the same.

"I couldn't believe how viral this went," he said in amazement. "Everyone who heard Nathan's story, helped to spread the word."

Agencies across the state of Virginia—local, county, state and federal—heeded the call and sent Nathan cards, letters and patches. 

"As long as Nathan is here, I want to do anything I can to make that little boy happy," Carpentieri said.

New Milford (N.J.) Chief of Police Frank Papapietro has shared Nathan's story with the officers of the New Milford Police Department and the Bergen County Police Chiefs Association to have them join in on fulfilling Nathan's Christmas wish.  

"When you hear a story like this, it's impossible not to think that this could be your child," Papapietro said. "The officers of the New Milford Police Department will do everything they can to make Nathan's wish come true."

This August, feeling especially ill after returning from his monthly treatment at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, Nathan asked his parents if they could decorate the house for Christmas because "that would make him feel better." Knowing that this might be his last Christmas, Nathan's family put up the tree, strung the lights and put out all the decorations.

Wanting to join in the spirit, Nathan's neighbors decorated their yards and strung their outdoor lights to make, what might be, Nathan's last Christmas really spectacular.

"Nathan is such a brave warrior," his mother Dawn told Patch. "He has taught me so much through his love, strength and faith."

Putting his own pain aside, Nathan likes to make gift bags for the other pediatric cancer patients he meets during his monthly treatment travels to Duke University Medical Center. His mother said that he likes to do things to make the other cancer patients feel better.

"I want to make sure that everyone understands that we do not expect to lose Nathan before Christmas this year," Norman said. "However we know with each end of treatment, our options are getting less and less. We fully believe he will be with us for Christmas."

Then she added, "We just don't know about next Christmas."

All cards, letters and patches can be sent to Nathan at:

Nathan Norman 

81 Dunivan Drive 

Rustburg, VA 24588

I have an interest in this December 10, 2012 at 11:25 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye39mgcHC3E Praying for you & your family Nathan!
Kayla Dowden December 12, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I will deffinatly be writing you a letter, i hope you get everything you wanted for Christmas (: Remember Stay Strong and never give up! God loves you bud<3 --Kayla Dowden.
vic velasquez December 12, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Hi Nathan! It sounds like you're already a brave hero. God Bless you!! -Vic Velasquez San Jose Firefighter and Catherine Velasquez San Jose Police Officer
Mike Mines December 12, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Hey buddy, I'm sending a gift for you. My thought and prayers are with you, keep strong and have a great Christmas with your family and friends. Officer Mike Mines - California Highway Patrol
Michael Pleytez December 13, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Hey little buddy! I think it's safe to say you're ten times the hero we are. I admire your bravery and strength! Always keep your head up and never lose that spirit of yours. Have a Merry Christmas! :) Officer Michael Pleytez - Onalaska Police Department
Vincent Vasquez December 13, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Hi Nathan, Brave men like you make the world a better place. Stay strong and keep your head up. Have a Merry Christmas. Vince Vasquez - San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.
Phil Taves December 13, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Nathan, As others have said you are a brave young man, we don't know you but your story is dear to us. Any time we see someone like yourself we are encouraged for the strength of each human being and we will pray for you and your family in these difficult times....... Marry Christmas - Phil & Paula Taves retired San Jose Police Dept.
Kara d December 15, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Hey Nathan! I just wanted to wish you a very merry Christmas. Your bravery is remarkable. I strive to be as strong and as brave as you. Nathan you are my hero. -Kara Danielsen - San Jose Fire Department Firefighter
Alex Lee December 15, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Nathan, We need more people like you in the fire service. In fact, we need more people like you in this world. Merry Christmas from the crew here at Station 26. Alex Lee - San Jose Fire Department Captain
Jesse Allread December 15, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Hi Nathan! Wishing you a Merry Christmas from San Jose Fire Department Station 1 "The Market Street Zoo." We have a lion on our station patch and he is the bravest of all the animals! We are going to name him after you! NATHAN THE LION!! Sounds pretty cool huh? Merry Christmas Brave One... You're an inspiration to us all! Jesse Allread- Firefighter SJFD Engine 1
Brian December 15, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Merry Christmas Nathan, You are a very brave young man who is an inspiration to all of us to aspire to be more courageous and brave. We're all thinking of you all the way from Northern California! -Officer Brian and K9 partner Edy from the Union City Police Department.
guardian angel December 19, 2012 at 05:38 AM
Nathan Norman 81 Dunivan Drive Rustburg, VA 24588 My dear Nathan I hear you hold the dream of being one of those who serve those in need; stand strong my young friend. I know you have obstacles, but think of it as an agility course/ Life is full of them; the stronger ones just get the harder ones is all. I worked through my life to become a law enforcement officer even though when I first started trying, “girls” weren’t allowed. Still, I worked years and years and finally, I was accepted and I was ranked 8th in my class of 412, physically and academically. So, I know you have the will, courage and awesomeness to fulfill your dreams. I wish I could be there to help you so, if you need my help, you can write and ask me and if in my power, I will grant it for you. Hang in there as you shine above so many and they need your guiding light; never forget that. Sincerely and always ( i WILL BE SENDING IN THE MAIL MY ADDRESS TO YOU)
Randall Leach Jr. December 24, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Hi Nathan, You without a doubt are one very brave young man. We are thinking about you here in Hanford, California and wish you and your family a great Christmas. My wife and I are mailing you two Kings County Sheriff's Office patches to add to your awesome collection. Senior Deputy Randall Leach Jr. Kings County Sheriff's Office


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