(Photo: Screenshot/Fox Toledo)
An entire town in Ohio united recently to hold an especially early Christmas celebration for a 13-year-old before he died of brain cancer. The mayor of the town, who donated a Christmas tree for the event, said at the time of the celebration that he believes God is watching over the boy.
Devin Kohlman, a 13-year-old student at Port Clinton Middle School in Port Clinton, Ohio, was battling an aggressive form of brain cancer in late October when he told his mother he would like to return from his Cincinnati hospital so that he could celebrate an early Christmas, as his chemotherapy treatment wasn't working and doctors told him he only had a few weeks to live.
"We want Devin to have the best Christmas that he's ever had, and we want to make sure that he has Christmas," Alexis Kohlman, Devin's mother, told Toledo News Now in late October.
The boy returned to his home with his family the night of October 27 to find most of the town outside of his apartment window, throwing an extravagant Christmas celebration for the boy that included a parade, carols, hot cocoa, a community prayer, Christmas music, a procession of emergency vehicles, and a snow play area built as part of a "winter wonderland" set up in the park directly outside of Kohlman's bedroom window.
Although the boy wasn't able to leave his bedroom, all of the events could be seen from his bedroom window, including the pinnacle of the celebration, when Santa Claus himself showed up at the festivities with a helper elf and several members of the Lost Riders motorcycle club. Local media outlets reported that almost the entire town showed up at the makeshift Christmas event for Kohlman, resulting in hundreds of people decorating the park and helping to make the boy's last holiday a special one.
"Hey, you guys, Santa Claus on a motorcycle got the biggest smile I've seen in a while," Alexis Kohlman reportedly called out the window to the crowd after Santa Claus arrived on the scene, as reported by the Port Clinton News Herald. After parading around the park outside of Kohlman's window, Santa paid a special visit to the boy.
The local Walmart agreed to fund all of the Kohlman family's Christmas gifts for this year, and Port Clinton Mayor Vincent Leone donated a large Christmas tree that was cut from his property and put up in the park right outside Kohlman's window. A gingko tree was also trimmed by the city to offer the ailing boy a clear view of the festivities.
"[We're] trying to give some type of relief to the parents to let them know that they're not in it alone. We're here to support them," Leone told Toledo News Now of the inspirational festivities held for Kohlman. "Personally, I believe in God and I pray that he's watching out for him. I know he is."
Since the inspirational event in Port Clinton, Kohlman has passed away from brain cancer. Close family and friends gathered for a vigil on Monday evening after Kohlman passed, and his family has continued to be grateful to the city for giving their loved one such a wonderful last wish.
"It brought him a sense of joy to know so many people cared," family friend Roseann Hickman told local WUSA 9-TV. "He touched a lot of people. I hope our community continues to show the love for each other."