Boy who shared kindness passes away

Life Moments column
By Christine Bryant

Central Ohio lost a hero this past weekend.

While not everyone knew Braxton Long, many knew of him. His desire to help others was contagious, as was his sweet grin.

Known as “Super Braxton,” he collected Lego sets for children spending time over the holidays at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. What initially started as a single act of kindness grew into a Lego drive, collecting hundreds of boxes.

Braxton knew what it was like to spend extended time at a hospital. For the third time last year, he was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer that begins in the brain.

On July 24, Braxton lost his battle with cancer. He was 8.

My heart – along with the hearts of the central Ohio community, especially Reynoldsburg where he lived – broke upon hearing the news.

I didn’t know Braxton, but over the past year I’ve followed his story, admiring the poise and hope he carried during dark moments that no one, especially an 8-year-old, should have to endure.

Yet Braxton taught us all that even in the darkest moments comes light, and that helping others is simply the right thing to do.

At the end of last year, after hearing of Braxton’s desire to become a police officer, Pataskala Mayor Mike Compton swore him in as an honorary Pataskala police officer. He was handed his badge, T-shirt and bullet-proof vest, as officers from Reynoldsburg, Newark, Heath, Buckeye Lake and the State Highway Patrol watched and celebrated with him.

Afterward, Braxton sat in a Franklin County SWAT vehicle that was filled with hundreds of toys and Legos and began a trip to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, escorted by police cruisers, to deliver the gifts to patients.

He may have only been 8, but in those eight short years, he made a significant impact on the lives of others that most of us can only hope to do.

In honor of Braxton, the Leo Club at Reynoldsburg Schools’ Summit Campus will collect new Lego sets for patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital during the Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival. Volunteers will be on hand to collect donations from 4 to 10 p.m. Aug. 18 and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 19 at Huber Park. Volunteers also will accept cash donations.

Leo Club is a nonprofit organization that hosts events throughout the year to raise awareness and money for Pediatric Cancer Research.

Central Ohio lost a hero this past week, yet his selflessness will live on in the hearts of the families he touched and central Ohio residents who will forever be inspired by his kindness.
Christine Bryant is a Messenger staff writer and columnist.

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