In pictures: Oak Park parade for local boy with leukemia a 'great success'

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By Ashley Lisenby

Digital Editor

Neighbors, friends and other Oak Park residents, including Village President Anan Abu-Taleb and Trustee Bob Tucker, showed their support for Paul Nelson, an 8-year-old with leukemia, at a parade staged in his honor, Oct. 18, on the 600 block of South Lombard Avenue.

Christine Nelson describes her son as a social kid, the kind of person who enjoys engaging with his community.

So when Paul 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 in an email, Oct. 16. "He feels crappy due to his leukemia and the treatment, but [it's hard] not being able to walk/manage stairs so he can attend school … karate class and Oak Park AYSO VIP soccer."

Paul, anticipating a ninth birthday on Oct. 27, also has Down syndrome. When his parents, Christine and Michael Nelson, learned of his diagnosis, they thought his condition would put him at higher risk of a certain kind of leukemia. Paul, however, has a "standard kid-type disease," Christine said.

Since Paul's diagnosis, the Nelsons have experienced the support of their community.

The Nelsons moved from Wicker Park to Oak Park seven years ago. The support from the family's current neighbors on 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, and taken Paul to rehab appointments in Chicago. 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.

In a recent Facebook post to the Journal via email Monday morning, she expressed her feelings about the parade.

"For a woman of many, many words, I am almost speechless about what happened today on our block for our boy," Christine wrote. "'Almost' is key here. I hope someone got a shot of Paul when he saw the police car turn the corner onto the street and the marching band stepped off. 'It's a parade, Mom!' I said, 'It's your parade, Paul.' 'This is all for me?' 'Yes, Paul. This whole amazing thing was all for you.'"

The Oak Park and River Forest High School marching band, the OPRF mascot, OPRF's hockey team, Cub Scout Troop 66, Grace Lutheran Church members, Trinity Irish dancers and the Derby Lite team, in addition to friends and neighbors, participated in making it a special day for Paul.

Paul's Parade from Kevin Garvey on Vimeo.

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Reader Comments

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Posted: October 23rd, 2014 9:50 PM

I'll later deny this, but reading this story and watching the video.......has left me speechless......with absolute joy!!! Go Paul (and Amy and Chris and Michael Nelson, etc)!!! Wow!!!

Julie Blankemeier from Oak Park  

Posted: October 23rd, 2014 9:37 PM

Thank you to Paul, his family, his neighbors, and all the parade participants for giving us such joy in reminding us what it the most beautiful and most important in Oak Park and everywhere. We are so grateful that you shared this. Hope you get well soon, Paul!

Julie & Boston from Forest Pk  

Posted: October 23rd, 2014 9:17 AM

What an awesome event for an awesome boy! Sorry we did not know about, we would have come. Hope to see you soon Paulie.

Susan Rees from Washington  

Posted: October 21st, 2014 8:37 PM

Oak Park, specifically the 600 block of S. Lombard, is the warmest, friendliest place you could visit. I'm glad I was able to be visiting my sister Jane and be there for Paul's parade.

Paul's Dad Michael Nelson from Oak Park from Oak Park  

Posted: October 21st, 2014 4:17 PM

Please reread Chris Williams' comment. He hit the nail on the head. Oak Park is the most wonderful community I know of. The 600 block of Lombard is the best of the best. I am so proud to be the father of Paul. He and his mom are opening a whole new world for me.

LeRoy from Austin  

Posted: October 21st, 2014 11:56 AM

I dont even know Amy Williams and I am proud of her

Chris Williams from Oak Park   

Posted: October 21st, 2014 10:26 AM

I am so proud to be married to the most wonderful woman in the world, Amy Williams, who organized the parade and had the whole idea. Oak Park rocks. This is what life is all about.

S. Pearce from Oak Park  

Posted: October 20th, 2014 7:23 PM

This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing this touching event. Get well soon, Paul!

Barbara from Forest Park  

Posted: October 20th, 2014 7:19 PM

A wonderful story about so many even more wonderful people who came out to make great memories for a special little boy. Get well Paul!

Jeana Salomone-Reisig from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 20th, 2014 1:29 PM

Because Oak Park is the best! Go Paul!

Amy Srodon Williams from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 20th, 2014 10:55 AM

Being there was like experiencing the end of "It's A Wonderful Life" in real life. I will never forget it.

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