Josiah's Story

click to enlargeLike most little boys, Josiah wanted to be a superhero or a sports superstar.  And in his mind, he was.  Constantly wearing either a Spiderman costume or a sports uniform, Josiah invited everyone around him to become a part of whatever adventure he was currently in the midst of.  Chasing bad guys, hitting home runs, grinding a skateboard – life was full of awe and wonder, and he wanted to share it with everyone.  Like most little boys, Josiah was the center of attention wherever he went, not because he demanded it, but because his personality took over the room.  Like most little boys, Josiah loved playing with friends and making his little brother laugh.  He loved going to school and meeting new people.

Unlike most little boys, Josiah was diagnosed with brainstem cancer at the age of four.  Unlike some patients, Josiah didn’t let a disease slow him down.

When the tumor began pressing on cranial nerves and prevented him from swinging a baseball bat, Josiah became the pitcher.  When he could no longer throw a ball, he became the head coach, cheering everyone else on, all without ever asking why he couldn’t play.  Josiah’s heart was always focused on other people, especially other kids.  Which is how The Josiah Foundation really began – in a sense, it was pretty much his idea.

Atchison FamilyWhile children often appear resilient throughout the course of a catastrophic illness, their parents wake up every morning to a living nightmare.  For Dan and Maria Atchison, the battle for Josiah’s life soon turned into a battle for their marriage, their family, and their sanity.  After thirteen months of chemotherapy and radiation, Josiah passed away in December 2005.  Divorce lawyers were hired, Dan lost his job, and the house the family once thrived in was put on the market.  Yet through God's grace and the support of people who genuinely cared about their family, the Atchisons remain united and healthy: Dan works as a producer for a local film company, Maria is in school for nursing and considering a career in pediatrics, and Benaiah, who was only two when his brother passed away, is a bright, energetic six year old who constantly talks about his older brother.

Though the excruciating pain of losing a child is one they deal with everyday, Dan and Maria are now eager to help other families battling pediatric illness.  Josiah left far too soon, but his idea lives on.  Kids shouldn’t come out swinging, be it at a baseball or a tumor, without someone to cheer them on.  The Josiah Foundation exists to continue the principles that Josiah based his life on, short as it was: love people, show them compassion, and do whatever you can to help.

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