Boy fight­ing can­cer cheered by Bat­man’s visit to school

Post Tribune (Sunday) - - News - By Corey Oh­lenkamp The Star-Press

AL­BANY, Ind. — Heroes come when peo­ple need them the most. And for the com­mu­nity of Al­bany, ral­ly­ing around Chris­tian Daugh­erty — a young boy who was di­ag­nosed with brain can­cer al­most a year ago — that hero was Bat­man pulling into Al­bany El­e­men­tary School.

John Buck­land dressed as Bat­man, and his Bat­mo­bile pulled into the school re­cently to visit Chris­tian and his class­mates to re­mind them that ev­ery­one will go through some­thing tough in life and to never give up.

It was an in­jec­tion of hope, the first for Buck­land in In­di­ana, right when a com­mu­nity needed it most.

Chris­tian was di­ag­nosed with a very rare brain tu­mor last fall after it was dis­cov­ered he had a tu­mor the size of a base­ball in his brain. The rare can­cer has had Chris­tian bat­tling through four brain surg­eries, after one of which he had to re-learn to walk and more.

“This fam­ily has been so open with their faith and with their hope about Chris­tian, it’s been an uplift­ing sit­u­a­tion,” said Joe Sch­maltz, Al­bany El­e­men­tary’s prin­ci­pal. “He’s touched so many of us.”

The Star Press re­ported in March 2018 that new med­i­ca­tion had shrunk the tu­mor, but Chris­tian’s bat­tle is on­go­ing. Ac­cord­ing to his par­ents, the doc­tors Chris­tian sees say they are run­ning out of op­tions as the can­cer moves into Chris­tian’s brain­stem.

Brad and Amanda Daugh­erty, Chris­tian’s par­ents, are just thank­ful for ev­ery day that they have with him.

When he was first brought into the hospi­tal and the tu­mor had rup­tured, they thought they might have lost their son. A year later, they are just happy with any time they can be to­gether as a fam­ily.

“We just want him to live his life to the fullest,” Amanda said.

Both par­ents feel that Chris­tian’s story has a mes­sage, one they hope res­onates with those fol­low­ing along their jour­ney.

“Keep the faith and be faith­ful to God,” Amanda said.

“Just love each other,” Brad said. “We are pos­i­tive, and the com­mu­nity has been pos­i­tive. It’s all about lov­ing each other.”

Ac­cord­ing to his par­ents, Chris­tian has kept the faith be­cause of his class­mates and com­mu­nity that have ral­lied around him. De­spite all the com­pli­ca­tions, Chris­tian has pushed to be in school as much as pos­si­ble.

“He loves it here and he loves the school,” Amanda said.

That made it even bet­ter that Bat­man was able to visit him and his class­mates gath­ered in the school gym­na­sium.

While Chris­tian is a self- pro­nounced fan of The Flash, he looked on in won­der dur­ing the visit.

“(Chris­tian) was all about it this morn­ing,” Sch­maltz said. “He may need to change from Flash to Bat­man after this one.

Buck­land gave him a batarang, which he mar­veled at for some time as the chil­dren and the adults in at­ten­dance were told that any­one can be a hero and in­spire.

That is the hope that Buck­land has tried to in­still by tak­ing on the moniker of the caped cru­sader for the past 6 years. It’s be­come a call­ing for him. He served as a fire­fighter in Iraq and after com­ing back he said that God gave him the call­ing to be­come Bat­man.

“The secret is to take the painful things and de­velop a mes­sage,” Buck­land said.

So far he has helped de­liver his mes­sage of hope and per­se­ver­ance with the H4H Foun­da­tion to more than 700 schools.

Some­thing you might not see as the Bat­mo­bile drives past is a se­ries of plaques on the in­side of the hood. Each plaque stands for a child that Heroes for Hire have helped put to rest with many of the chil­dren fea­tured hav­ing rid­den in the Bat­mo­bile.

The H4H Foun­da­tion works in sev­eral ways to help fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties. They pro­vide last­wish Bat­mo­bile rides to youth who are ter­mi­nally ill, and may also serve as pall­bear­ers.

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