published a modest story on a young boy who is dying with cancer that
he was surrounded with tens of thousands of cards from well-wishers,
some sent from the corners of the globe.
But the story of young Damien Hammonds is more about humanity and
strength of character than the ability to send hundreds of requests
through e-mail by clicking the "send" button.
We first learned of young Damien, his battle with neuroblastoma and
his Christmas wish for holiday cards on Dec. 18. Because time was
precious, the next day we published a hastily put together 193-word
story telling of Damien's plight and his single wish for Christmas
Five days later, 25,000 cards had arrived, and now, 12 days later,
that number has grown to surpass 35,000, so many that keeping an
accurate count has become too troublesome for the family. If you would
like to add to that total, send the card to Damien Hammonds, 409 Burns
Road, Lumberton, N.C. 28358.
The acts of kindness have not been limited to cards. Damien has
received cash, toys, a visit from Santa Claus, and he is also an
honorary deputy sheriff. We know that millions of prayers have been
sent skyward on his behalf.
We have not, however, been surprised by the response. We expected it.
If there is a surprise to this story, it has to be the courage that
young Damien has shown while confronting this deadly disease and the
unfairness of it all. There is nothing more heartbreaking than to see
a child cheated out of full life.
We have seen many photos of Damien, and his smile belies the sorry
hand that he has been dealt. But Damien has been — and continues to be
— an inspiration to the rest of us, someone whose plight is worth
considering next time our world crashes because we are stuck in
traffic or grape juice spills onto the shiny new carpet.
We don't know how much longer it will be before an angel escorts
Damien away, but we do know this: Damien, in his brief time among us,
will have impacted more lives positively than most of us can manage in
a full lifetime.