Port Clinton celebrates Christmas early for boy with cancer - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Port Clinton celebrates Christmas early for boy with cancer

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The small community of Port Clinton is moving up the holidays to bring some joy and cheer to a young boy dying from cancer.

Sunday night, Devin Kohlman and his family got a homecoming celebration they never saw coming.

Hundreds lined the street of Port Clinton to welcome home Devin, 13, who is battling an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Devin's mom, Alexis Kohlman, says her son was greeted at the airport by loved ones and a police escort home.

"When we got over the bay we could see all the police cars, fire trucks, and everything lined up with lights," says Alexis. "I told him that they were all there for him and his eyes were huge!"

Alejandro Zapata helped rally the community together to give Devin a special welcome home celebration.  

"It was just instant tears," says Zapata, "You could just see all the people with signs that came out in a matter or hours notice."

Devin has undergone multiple surgeries at Cincinnati's Children's Hospital and recently got the bad news that his treatment wasn't working.

"He asked was the doctors said, I told him the MRI's are worse and he wasn't getting better," says Alexis.

The 8th grader wanted to spend his final days at home surrounded by friends and loved ones.

Plus, he wanted to celebrate his favorite holiday: Christmas.

"I just want to make him happy and comfortable," says Devin's mom.

Through his window, Devin can see people in Port Clinton trying to move up the annual Christmas celebration.

People in this community along Lake Erie worked hard all day Monday. Moms, dads, grandmothers, and grandfathers who don't even know Devin volunteered to decorate the park with a heartfelt determination to give him Christmas in October.

Just days before Halloween, dozens of volunteers in Port Clinton string Christmas lights and build snowmen to transform the gazebo at Adams Street Park into a winter wonderland for a boy named Devin.

"We're not God and we're not trying to play God. The doctors aren't God. So no one knows what God has in store, but just in case we're going to make sure Devin has Christmas," says Cari Rogers as she assembled lights.

"It's just something I felt we needed to do," says Mindy Waffen. 

Waffen and her husband brought lights from home to decorate a tree at the Park.  Like most people volunteering, they don't know Devin.

"But I do have grand kids and I like to think if anything happened to them that this community would do the same," says Waffen through tears.

The location is perfect. Devin can see Santa, his reindeer, and all the garland from his window.

"He is just across the street in the white structure that sticks out of that building. He is sitting in there, so we wanted to make sure he had a clear view of this," says Port Clinton Mayor Vincent Leone. "Christmas was something very special to him and it's very special for us to give him the Christmas that he may not be here for."

13 ABC first met Devin Kohlman in August while putting together a Back to School story in Port Clinton.

He told us while sitting in a wheelchair in his classroom that his dream was to go to classes and be with his friends as long as possible.

"I've been away from them for so long, I just wanted to see them," Devin told Christine Long on August 27. 2013.

On Monday, teachers and students at Port Clinton Middle School wore blue shirts that say "Team Devin."

"We just want to support Devin, let him know we're behind him all the way and we'll always be with him no matter what," says Eian Burkholder, an 8th grader.

Renee Stine lives on Perry Street.  She put up her massive Christmas wreath on Sunday night.

"I have children in the middle school and the high school and the community is just coming together and putting our lights up and celebrating Christmas early so he gets to see it," says Stine.

It's a gift for a boy whose bravery has touched the hearts of everyone in this small town with a big heart.

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