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April 4 ‘parade’ to celebrate Carson being cancer free

WESTFIELD-For Carson Hanchett, a kindergartner at the Munger Hill Elementary School, this was a milestone week.

Hanchett, age 6, the son of Crystal Ruelle and Christopher Hanchett, beat the odds and is now cancer free.

A drive-by parade is set for Saturday, April 4, to celebrate 6-year-old Carson Hanchett being cancer free. (CRYSTAL RUELLE PHOTO)

“Carson had a rare form of lymphoma called Nodular Lymphocyte Predominant Hodgkin Lymphoma,” said Ruelle, who posted on Facebook this week they waited 469 days for the news. “Carson had two courses of chemotherapy, 12 radiation treatments, two surgeries, three biopsies, two hospital admissions, two platelet transfusions, multiple emergency department visits, and too many radiology visits to count.”

As the news spread across Facebook of Carson being cancer free, a fellow classmate of Ruelle’s from their high school days at Gateway Regional High School, Jillian Conroy, wanted to help Carson celebrate.

“Ok friends,” said Conroy in a Facebook post. “Let’s do something positive to support one of our little residents.”

Conroy, also of Westfield, noted that while a “big party” isn’t possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to organize a “drive-by parade” for him.

“”We need some happiness and positivity right now,” said Conroy. “We’ll honk and cheer and show our support to him. Everyone must remain in your cars so we can make sure to obey social distancing laws.”

For area residents who would like to join the caravan on Saturday, April 4 at 1 p.m., Conroy is asking people to meet between 12:45-12:55 in the parking lot of the Munger Hill Elementary School at 33 Mallard Lane. Once the caravan is lined up, everyone will proceed down Cardinal Lane, take a left onto Shaker Road, and drive by Carson’s home at 20 Shaker Road.

“Feel free to make signs and decorate your cars with safe and secure items,” said Conroy, noting that Batman decorations would be extra special.

“I’m not very artistic but I am going to find a way to incorporate Batman on the car,” said Conroy, who will be joined by her husband Bob, and daughter, Abby, age 1.

Conroy added she has invited the Westfield Police and Fire departments, as well as Westfield Gas & Electric, to participate.

A drive-by parade is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, to celebrate Carson Hanchett being cancer free. (CRYSTAL RUELLE PHOTO)

“Let’s make Carson feel special for this amazing milestone,” said Conroy, adding that Batman is Carson’s favorite super hero.

For Ruelle, she said Carson had just turned five when they received the diagnosis.

“As a mother your sole job is to protect your children,” said Ruelle. “When we received the news the feeling was overwhelming because his cancer was considered rare.”

Ruelle said she has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of cards and well wishes and was thrilled that Conroy wanted to organize a parade.

“I know his dad and his grandparents will be in their cars as part of the parade,” said Ruelle, who will be with her boyfriend, Paul Afonso, coaxing Carson to be outside in the yard at the time the parade of cars will pass by.

“The thought of everybody thinking of Carson is overwhelming,” said Ruelle, adding, “there are no words to describe knowing that complete strangers want to celebrate a child overcoming such a battle.”

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