GRAPEVINE -- Playing football with his brother, Ben, or video games; these are the things 10-year-old Sam Fleming wants to talk about.
“I just want to be as normal as I can be,” Sam said while hanging out in his younger brother’s bedroom at their family’s Grapevine home.
Sam’s life has been anything but normal since he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer, at the age of four. He takes as many as 15 pills a day. He’s fed infant formula through a tube for extra nourishment at night.
“I don’t want to talk about treatment and all that,” Sam said.
Sam’s mother, Linda, said her son has always had a positive attitude despite multiple surgeries, experimental treatments, and trips to Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York every eight weeks.
“He was born that way, I tell you,” said Linda with a smile. “He is a spirited kid. He just likes to play.”
Thursday evening Sam, accompanied by his eight-year-old brother Ben, played the part of grand marshal at the Gift of Light And Snow holiday event held at the Texas Motor Speedway. He flipped the switch on more than two million LED Christmas lights.
“It’s pretty fun. I’m glad Sam gets to light it,” said Ben, with a supportive pat on his older brother’s shoulder.
Ben rode in a pace car right behind big brother Sam. He also received a little taste of the limelight, when so often he’s in his brother’s shadow, due to Sam’s illness.
Neuroblastoma has a very high recurrence rate and kids are never in remission.
“Ben is Sam’s best medicine,” Linda said. “He plays with him. He’s right there with him for everything.”
Thursday's event ushers in the holiday season at Texas Motor Speedway. According to a news release, crews have been working for weeks to install more than 600 unique holiday displays.
Besides the lights, there will be Snow Town, a new attraction that includes an outdoor tubing hill and 100 tons of real snow. It opens to the public on Nov. 22 and runs through Jan. 5, 2014.
It benefits the Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth, Tarrant Area Food Bank, and KLTY Christmas Wish.
It’s a seasonal event for the speedway, but the Flemings celebrate one holiday all the time.
“Every day for us is a huge Thanksgiving,” Linda said. “We are thankful for the people around us, family and friends. Thankful he’s here.”
The gift of life is worth celebrating all year long.