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Friday
Sep012017

Welcome home parade held for 7-year-old boy in remission 

Tiffany Baker(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- There were yells and cheers during a boy's homecoming last week as his community threw him a parade in celebration of being cancer-free.

Johnny Sawyer Dyer, known as Sawyer, returned home after fighting leukemia for eight months. After undergoing treatment and receiving a bone marrow transplant, Sawyer was released from the hospital and welcomed home on Aug. 22 with a parade.

"All we have is a genuine, sincere thank you," dad Ron Dyer of Corryton, Tennessee, told ABC News. "At some point in time, he has made the comment that he wanted to be famous. When he saw family, friends, people he knows from school, I guess in a 7-year-old boy's mind, he did feel like he was famous."

Sawyer was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia on Jan. 4. He spent four months at East Tennessee Children's Hospital in Knoxville for treatments and later, underwent a bone marrow transplant at TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville.

It wasn't until the end of August when his family returned home after living near the Nashville hospital for the summer.

"He's a typical 7-year-old boy -- fun-loving, rough, tough very outgoing, loves to make people laugh," Dyer said of his son. "Apart from losing his hair from chemo, you would never know anything was wrong with him. He's been just the boy we knew before the diagnosis."

Becky Crawford's husband is a pastor at the church the Dyer family attends. As a friend and fellow community member, Crawford has held multiple fundraisers since Sawyer's diagnosis.

After learning that Sawyer was coming home, Crawford organized a parade for the event to celebrate the boy being in remission.

"Our local community has rallied around him so we put up signs and sent flyers home with the local elementary," Crawford told ABC News.

Nearly 400 community members lined up along a half-mile stretch of road, including Sawyer’s classmates, local law enforcement and pastors dressed in superhero costumes.

All attendees dressed in orange, which is Sawyer’s favorite color and also represents child leukemia.

Sawyer, his parents and sister Maddie drove through the parade in a convertible behind a police escort.

"He grinned from ear to ear and waved," Crawford recalled. "It was overwhelming to see the love that the community has for a kid they don't even know."

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