Blue smoke heralded the arrival of the Avengers who came to Stryker to pay tribute to a true hero June 11.
Ferried by the Toledo Police Department’s SWAT truck, the Avengers came to Jaxon Palmer’s birthday party as a surprise to the 3-year-old boy. Led by Captain America, a team of superheroes including Wolverine, Spiderman, Deadpool, Thor and the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles, descended on the neighborhood to a raucous reception.
Having superheroes come to a birthday party may not sound unusual, but then Jaxon is no ordinary child and Captain America no ordinary hero. If asked, Cap would say Jaxon is the real hero.
The pair have become close over the past couple of years, mother Brianna Palmer said. The officer and her son have run the halls at the hospital and played baseball, she said.
“They just have a unique relationship,” Brianna Palmer said.
Saturday wasn’t really Jaxon’s birthday (that comes July 15), but the youngster has terminal leukemia and the family wasn’t sure if we would be strong enough for a party then.
Jaxon has been battling leukemia for 2 ½ years and received a bone marrow transplant that ultimately failed, Brianna Palmer said. From there it was on to chemo, but even after giving the young boy an adult dosage, the cancer continued to rage and the doctors said there was nothing more they could do.
The family has made peace with the situation and when the decision was made to have the party, the whole family from far and wide (an aunt, Jess Heatherington-Palmer, came all the way from Britain) to celebrate with Jaxon. The aunt had only seen Jaxon via Skype.
She was impressed with her nephew.
“How many kids are as special as he is?” Jess Heatherington-Palmer asked. “His personality is infectious.”
Jake Palmer, Jaxon’s dad, was pleased with the turnout. He was visibly touched by a brother driving up from North Carolina and a cousin from Iowa. Having the SWAT team come was pure bonus.
“The first time we hung out with them it was pretty cool they showed their support,” Jake Palmer said. “Captain America came back a few times, but to have them all come out on a Saturday, all the way from Toledo is outrageous.
“It shows a lot, especially for someone they don’t get to see every day.”
When people ask him how he’s holding up, he said the family is getting through because there is no other option, Jake Palmer said.
Grandma Jamie Meadows said the family loves the Avengers team, especially Captain America, who visits Jaxon often in the hospital.
“When they said they were coming today, I am like oh my gosh, (Jaxon) is going to be so excited,” Jamie Meadows said.
Jaxon has received a diploma from the school, the village set June as Jaxon Palmer Day.
The Avengers came bearing gifts, bringing a mini squad car for Jaxon to drive around and a pint-sized police uniform for him to look the part.
Captain America even has a photo of the boy on his shield.
The Avengers met Jaxon two years ago when they repelled down the exterior of a hospital in Toledo. Jaxon was receiving treatment at the time.
When the Avengers repelled down the hospital again this year, Captain America’s alter ego, Patrolman Robert Orwig, a 15-year veteran of the force, was taken with Jaxon’s situation and reached out to the family through the hospital and social media. Orwig stayed in touch with the family to see how Jaxon was doing.
“I was able to go visit him in the hospital,” Orwig said. “He kind of knows me as two people.
The two met again this year when the superheroes repelled down the hospital wall again and Jaxon was once again receiving treatment. The patrolman visited Jaxon in the hospital where they played ball.
“He is an inspiration,” Orwig said. “He is probably the bravest kid I have met. He is braver than a lot of adults.”
When the officers learned about the birthday party they decided to come out in costume, Wolverine said. The party is something special for Jaxon, he said.
When he visited the boy in the hospital, the youngster is all smiles. The two often played baseball in the hospital.
It was Orwig’s idea to surprise Jaxon.
“If I can make him smile one, two, three more times that, what I want is for him to be happy.”
“It’s all for him,” Orwig said. “I love it myself, but basically it’s just for him.”
James Pruitt may be reached at email@example.com
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