A little boy struggling with a big illness is the inspiration for a fundraising party this weekend.
Theo Lazardis, age two and the son of Tasso and Laura Lazardis, is being treated for childhood leukemia and when the bills for his family started coming in friends and family came together to create a fundraising campaign called Theo's Basecamp.
A big family fun event is taking place Sunday (March 4) at Totem Hall in Squamish.
Speaking from Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver, Tasso Lazardis said his son is responding well to treatment.
"Mr. Energy last night decided to do a back flip off his bed," Lazardis said.
Theo has completed two rounds of chemotherapy to treat acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Kids with this illness produce abnormal white blood cells that accumulate in bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells.
While Theo is getting better at Children's Hospital, his parents, his grandmother and his older sister are staying at Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver with 13 other families dealing with similar situations.
Lazardis said it is a good living environment that allows he and his wife to focus on Theo. He said they split their time in Vancouver with his mother-in-law so someone is close to Theo all the time while also making sure Theo's sister, Eden, is cared for.
Theo was diagnosed a few days before Christmas and once the extent of his situation was realized aggressive chemotherapy treatment began.
"We're in for four rounds of chemo and we just completed the second round," said Lazardis adding that a key test indicated Theo is in a low risk category following his second chemotherapy session.
The first round of treatment was a challenge because Theo went into it with flu symptoms. He did better in his second round of chemo.
The family has created a boxing theme inspired by the Rocky movies based on the rounds of treatment to help the toddler deal with the treatments.
"Laura's the coach, I'm the manager, Theo's the fighter and Eden's the cheerleader," said Lazardis, who works as a patroller at Blackcomb Mountain when he isn't playing "manager" with Theo.
Lazardis said he has been blown away by the support his family has received.
"They send you a $25 Wal-Mart card and you don't even know who the person is," he said.
"It brings a tear to your eye."
He said that when he and his wife did things for people in the past they had no idea that they would need the help they are currently getting.
"When this is all said and done," said Lazardis with a heavy sigh, "big party."
For now he said he is focused on keeping Theo and the rest of his family happy as the project is a long-term initiative.
Doctors say that Theo will have to make regular trips to Children's Hospital up until he turns 18.
The fundraising event to support Theo's treatment costs will begin at noon and go until 4 p.m. The festivities will include games, face painting, a silent auction, food and a bouncy castle.
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