A trip to the aquarium is cool for an eight year old like Matthew Hart. His recent trip with his family felt even more special, since it was the first outing they'd had since the pandemic hit Atlanta in March.
Since then, his family has been concerned about protecting him from COVID-19, because of everything he's already been through.
"He doesn't know life without cancer, he's had it since before he was two," his mother, Dawn Hart, explains.
The fact that Matthew is even here is a miracle. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was a toddler. The next two years were filled with treatments and surgeries, none of which worked. By the time he was four, doctors sent him home on hospice.
"They told us without treatment he had six months, and here we are six years later," his father, Jason Hart, says.
Side effects like sensitivity to the sun have kept Matthew from being a typical eight-year-old, and those concerns are only compounded by the virus.
The CBS46 Surprise Squad arranged a special, private visit to the aquarium for Matthew and his family just before Christmas. He and his siblings thought that was cool, but we had more surprises for them.
Matthew, who loves trains, was gifted an electronic train and track. "That is a cool thing!" he said.
For his brother and sister, the CBS46 Surprise Squad and United Community Bank purchased a new basketball and a hoop for the family's home.
The team also gave the family $1,500 to help them buy a new bed for Matthew. "Matthew’s been sleeping in a hospital be, and he doesn’t need it any more- he’s doing really well, and we’ve been wanting a big boy bed that will work for what he needs," Dawn explained.
The Hart family has been supported by the Rally Foundation. It's work founder Dean Crowe loves. "When you see these faces, this is why we do it. So they can get treatment without long term side effects and can get back to being kids," she says.
As a final part of the surprise, the CBS46 Surprise Squad made a donation to help another Rally Foundation family this holiday season.