Toledo Jeep community rallies around 9-year-old brain tumor survivor

Published: Aug. 9, 2018 at 10:36 PM EDT
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For 9-year-old Landon Derrick the sight of a Jeep never gets old.

"What do you think of all these Jeeps?," 13abc reporter Michael Bratton asked Landon. "They're cool!," replied Landon.

Thursday, Landon and his family were greeted in Bowling Green by dozens of Jeeps after traveling 12 hours from South Carolina.

It was all to recognize the young man's love for the iconic vehicles made in Toledo.

Landon's mom says the love affair started when he was young as his dad used to own multiple Jeep Wranglers.

"What do you like about Jeeps so much?," Bratton asked Landon again. "I like them because of how people decorate them and all the colors," replied Landon. "And I think they just look really cool."

Back in 2015, Landon underwent two surgeries for a massive tumor that extended onto his brain stem.

It's something his parents say left him with nerve damage, partial blindness, underdeveloped lungs and even a shortened life expectancy.

"He has taught me so much about strength and love and kindness," said Landon's mom Alana Derrick.

Even with all of his complications Landon's mom says he's kept a positive outlook on life and put others before himself.

After word of his journey and kindness hit social media, Jeep lovers in Toledo sprang into action.

"I was just inspired by his strength and determination to beat the odds with his illness," said Toledo Assembly Complex worker Phil Reiter.

"With all the medical issues and everything that we would be down about—his heart goes out to others," also said Paige Michalski of the Glass City Crawlers.

So just days ahead of Toledo's Jeep Fest those from the Toledo Assembly Complex and the Glass City Crawlers arranged a convoy for Landon along with another of his favorites, Star Wars.

"It just shows the spirit of the Toledo community and the Jeep community," said Reiter.

"Landon has won the hearts of everyone in the Crawlers," also said Michalski.

With a weekend of even more Jeep-filled events ahead, Landon's family says they feel at home in the place where Jeeps are made.

"We're just so overwhelmed and blessed and just thankful," said Alana Derrick. "It just shows that there's so much kindness still in the world."