Christine Nelson describes her son as a social kid, the kind of person who enjoys engaging with his community.
So, when her son was diagnosed with leukemia on Sept. 2, started chemotherapy treatments and then suffered a stroke following a blood clot in his brain, he had to stop attending school and spend more time at home.
"For a kid who is the most social person I've ever met, this is the worst part of the whole thing," Christine said Thursday. "He feels crappy due to his leukemia and the treatment, but the not being able to walk/manage stairs so he can attend school […] karate class and Oak Park AYSO VIP soccer."
Paul, 8, and anticipating a 9th birthday on Oct. 27, also has Down syndrome. When his parents, Christine and Michael Nelson, learned of his diagnosis they thought DS would put him at a higher risk of a certain kind of leukemia. Paul, however, has a "standard kid type disease," Christine said.
Since Paul's diagnoses, the Nelsons have had the support of the community.
Christine and Michael moved from Wicker Park to Oak Park seven years ago. The support from the family's current neighbors on the 600 block of South Lombard has been "mind-boggling," Christine said.
Neighbors, and in some cases parents of children Paul goes to school with, have made Target or Costco runs, made dinners and desserts, done the laundry, taken Paul to rehab appointments in Chicago, and a parent of a classmate took pictures of Paul before his hair falls out.
"We are so thankful and humbled to receive this outpouring of care and support," Christine said.
The neighbors on the block are also preparing to show their support in another way by throwing Paul a parade in his honor at their annual block party on Oct. 18. The OPRF marching band, members of Derby Lite, the Trinity Irish Dancers, as well as kids from the block will be a part of the event.
"I hope he feels good enough to show a bit of the Paul Nelson charm — which is truly something when he lays it on."
Answer Book 2018
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