A town in Kansas has come together to give a special gift to a dying little boy. Nearly all of the residents of the tiny town of Lebo created “Christmas in September” this past Sunday for 3-year-old Christian Risner, who was recently given less than three months to live.
Like most children, Christian loves Christmas. So when Kelly Freund, who lives in Lebo, learned of his prognosis, she decided to organize an event that would allow his family to celebrate the holiday together one last time.
Before the celebration, nearly 80 percent of the city’s 900 residents hung Christmas lights and put up holiday decorations, and local businesses joined in as well. Santa came with a bag full of presents for the little boy. Then the Risner family enjoyed a ride around the town in a horse drawn sleigh, finishing up at the Lebo Baptist Church, which hosted a community potluck. Attendees also bid at a silent auction that was organized to raise money for Christian’s medical care.
Even people from neighboring states came to join the fun and show their support. “People came from all over.… From Arkansas, really several different states,” said Freund.
A Rare Cancer
Christian has rhabdoid kidney cancer, a rare and extremely aggressive tumor that is very difficult to treat. He was diagnosed a mere 18 months ago at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, where he received therapy to try to combat the disease. But despite his doctor’s best efforts, the tumor soon spread to his lungs.
After hearing the news of the cancer’s spread, Christian’s parents decided to forego more aggressive therapy and allow the boy to enjoy what was left of his life. “We wanted him to be like this, with hair, no NG [nasogastric] tube,” Christian’s father Josh Risner said in an interview with Oklahoma’s News Channel 4. “Living a normal 3-year-old’s life, enjoying time with his family.”
According to Kelly Freund, Christian enjoyed his Christmas celebration a great deal. He was in good spirits, and “running around and playing,” she said.
The people of Lebo are still fundraising to help Christian’s family pay their medical bills. If you would like to contribute, you can send a check payable to “Christian’s Crew” to:
Farmers State Bank of Aliceville
P.O. Box 66
Lebo, KS 66856