In a parade that seemed to stretch for miles, racecars, motorcycles, Jeeps and cartoon characters lined up Poplar street to wish three-year-old Tyler Copley a happy birthday.
Tyler’s mom Heather Hudson said that Tyler was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in March, after running a fever for an extended period of time.
“She was not getting better, no matter what we did,” she told Sapulpa Times.
After taking Tyler to the hospital for a series of tests, Heather said their “worst fear became a reality.”
“The oncologist came into the room, and I just knew, a mother always knows,” she said.
Heather says she and her husband Dallas took Tyler to St. Jude in Tennessee, where they started chemotherapy treatments almost immediately. “We spent three long months in Memphis, and were finally released to come back home and finish treatments at St. Francis,” she said.
She said that Tyler has been a trouper, but that the process has taken a toll.
“We felt helpless when we were told the diagnosis,” she said. “Knowing your child has cancer and it is something that I can’t just give her antibiotics or a bandaid for…I can’t explain how that feels.”
While mom and dad are worrying over their daughter’s care, Tyler herself is taking it almost in stride. “She has never lost her smile through this whole process,” Heathery says. “Even through the rough chemo days and rough procedure days, she still keeps her smile and never gives up.”
When Tyler’s third birthday came up, Heather knew that her daughter’s condition and rising COVID cases wouldn’t make for a good birthday party, so she began to put the word out to see if there was interest in a drive-by birthday parade.
And boy, was there. The reaction was so overwhelming, that Dallas and Heather started another Facebook profile just to keep in touch with folks for that event. Soon, plans were in place for a whole parade, including firefighters, police, motorcycles, Oklahoma Jeepers, and plenty more.
As the first batch of parade participants began to make their way down Poplar, Tyler sat in her chair and giggled, pointing down the street at the flashing lights and sirens. Eventually, Dallas hoisted her up on his shoulders so she could get a better view.
She smiled, laughed, and waved at everyone who drove by, and her eyes got wide every time someone handed off a gift or balloon. It was obvious she was having the time of her life.
Heather says that the outpouring of love has been remarkable.
“We are blown away by the kindness and love we have been shown,” she said. “It’s so nice to see that our community cares and is coming together for our sweet girl.”
She says she feels grateful to the community for making this rough time of their lives more bearable.
“We can’t thank everyone enough. This year has been tough and coming home to this type of love is incredible.”