The Portland community is going to make sure that Christmas is special for seven-year-old Everett Kondus even though he will be in Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital during the holiday for a bone marrow transplant.
Everett was diagnosed with leukemia when he was four years old. In March of this year, a relieved family was told that he was in remission however, he relapsed in July. He is in remission again and is facing a bone marrow transplant sometime during December. The family hopes he will be able to return home after the first of the year.
When family friends, Kurtis and Brook McKelvey heard Everett was going to be in the hospital during Christmas, they began organizing a project to bring Christmas to him a little early. The McKelvey’s are asking the community to decorate their homes early this year and to place orange ribbons somewhere on the decorations because orange is the color that represents childhood leukemia.
Sometime after Nov. 25, the family will drive Everett around town to see all the community support. It may take them a few days to view all the decorations.
Mayor Mike Callis has asked the city workers to put up the Christmas decorations early this year. The workers did not hesitate and are well on their way to having the city ready.
Callis said, “It’s wonderful to see a community pull together in an effort to brighten the day of someone going through a difficult time. The city employees jumped at the chance to be a blessing to the family.”
Brittany Vaught is planning Everett’s Christmas Parade by Everett’s house for Saturday, Nov. 28. Those who want to participate are asked to meet at Portland High School by 12:45 p.m. The parade will start at 1 p.m. You are encouraged to dress and decorate your cars. You can also bring small gifts or treats to toss in a bin in their yard. This is a surprise event for Everett, even though his parents are aware.
Everett is the son of Matt and Tierra Kondus. He has four siblings, Matt, Jr, (13), Allie (10), Addisyn (9), and Bennett (1.5 months old).
“It’s been overwhelming the amount of love, prayers and support that we’ve received from our community. It has been amazing and overwhelming,” Everett’s father said. “We get a tremendous amount of love and support from our school. Everett goes to Portland Gateview. They have been a godsend to me.
“There is so much support for him there and throughout the community. Every time we talk to him about it, he just lights up knowing that so many people out there are praying for him and loving on him. It has been a crucial part in the mental health aspect of fighting cancer.
“We absolutely love our community and are beyond thankful. We hope Everett’s story will be an inspiration to other people to persevere during the hardest times of your life and never give up. Keep God at the center and keep your eye on Him.”
Assistant Principal of Portland Gateview Elementary School Shelena Butt said, “Most of us have purchased shirts we wear on designated days to support Everett [Team Everett]. We have had orange day at school, several times, to support Everett as orange represents his childhood cancer. We had a parade for Everett before his last hospital stay.
“We are decorating the school early for the holidays in hopes that he can walk through one evening prior to entering the hospital. We have a school wide writing/card project which will provide a card/letter from all students to Everett. So many of our staff/faculty check in with the family daily/weekly in addition to our constant prayer warriors.”
There are two Facebook pages with details about his journey and events planned for him. They are: Prayers for Everett and Everett’s Christmas Parade. A friend has set up a GoFundMe account under the name of Kondus Family Support.