A Distinctive Style Magazine

Issue 16

Culture, music, art, creativity, photography, environmental awareness, new fashion, celebrity interviews, motion video, organic eating, holistic health

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If I were to describe Christopher, perhaps his fourth grade friends said it best, Christopher the type of friend everyone would want, smart, loyal, brave, funny and always a good sport. Christopher was very brave and had to deal with far more than most adults in his lifetime. In 2001, at the age of 3, our sweet child was diagnosed with leukemia. Thankfully, he went into remission quickly and his prognosis was excellent. Still the whole experience encouraged us to live in the moment and appreciate everything. Christopher was such a passionate kid and loved many things. He would get just as excited about a barbecue at Nanna's & Popop's as going to see his beloved Mets play. "Christopher had a great range and you could tell that he really enjoyed his life, especially the little things," one of his friend's moms said. When Christopher was eight, after re- occurring fevers, he was diagnosed with relapse leukemia. This time the treatment was a lot more strenuous, but once again he went into remission quickly and did great on treatment. Losing his hair was especially hard at eight. Not wanting to be different and have the no-hat rule changed for him at school, he went off to third grade with no hat, no hair and a big smile on his face. Christopher loved to draw on every- thing including his desk, his jeans and in his own comic books that he created, The Adventures of Ultimate Man. He sold the first issue, The Birth of A Hero" for fifty cents on the front lawn in front of our house. At the age of nine, Christopher had de- veloped a strong sense of fairness. One night, while preparing for bed after a day at Shea Stadium, I said to Christopher, "I saw you and Ryan, his younger brother, praying in the ninth inning when the Mets were down by two. Did you pray to ask God to help the Mets win?" He shook his head and said, "Mom, I would never ask God to make one team win and another team lose because that would not be fair. Instead I asked God to give the players the courage to believe in themselves so they could hit a home run." Sadly, a month later, one of the life-saving chemo treatments caused a more aggressive cancer. This time, the doctors couldn't get him into remission. This time they couldn't save him. On July 23, 2007, our sweet child passed away. It hurt to breathe, let alone live. But we had to find a way because Christopher's younger brother was only seven and needed functioning parents. I felt this intense need to continue to parent Christopher and at the same time help other children – children that may not have had the same hope and opportunities that Christopher had. In 2009, with the help of my friends, we created a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called the Christopher Barron Live Life Foundation. Our mission is to instill Christopher's passion and zest for life by offering un- derserved children unique opportunities to live life and pursue interests about which Christopher was most passionate. At the same time, we seek to empower children by encouraging them to earn such opportunities through perseverance and hard work. Given Christopher's love of comics, we created Christopher's Comic Book Inspira- tions and partnered with School 21, an elementary school, in Paterson, New Jer- sey. Each January, we provide their fifth graders a six-week comic book writing workshop series in which professional comic book writer, Alex Simmons, from Archie Comics teaches them how to create four-panel comic strips just like the professionals. The series is followed by a culminating event to celebrate their efforts. This past year due to New Jersey state budget cuts and the loss of all of their enrichment programs, our workshops were the only creative outlet the kids received all year. It's inspiring to see how the development of plots, characters and sequencing helps the kids to develop stronger organizational skills as well as greater confidence in themselves and the realization that they can create some- thing extraordinary out of nothing. The workshops have proven to be an emotional outlet as well as a creative one. For ex- ample, Gary who loves everything soccer, wrote about gangs instead. However, un- like in his reality, all of the gang members are caught in his comic. Kassandra created a character that is half robot/half man who has supersonic hearing to detect the cries of homeless people and a heart to make food for them. Our hope is to expand the program to more inner city schools in the future. We still miss Christopher terribly, but it helps to know that we are inspiring other children to dream big by sharing his passions with them. For more information about the Founda- tion or to make a donation, please visit www.ChristopherBarronLiveLife.org. A Distinctive style . com 97

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