KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Dylan Hoffmon has probably never gotten a hero's welcome before. That's exactly how approximately a thousand students and teachers at Staley High School treated him Friday morning.
He's very special at Staley. Cheerleaders escorted him in, sitting him and his family front and center in the school's field house. Students performed songs and dances for him and had a students-versus-teachers basketball game. Dylan and his family joined in a dodgeball game and shot some hoops.
"I think he's more excited about coming here and playing basketball than going to Disney World," his mom, Kayla Noah, said.
All of the pageantry was to send him on the trip of a lifetime. Dylan's in remission from leukemia. Doctors diagnosed him when he was just four. He finished chemotherapy last September and is now cancer-free.
"A weight off our shoulders for them to come back and give us the clear that he's good to go," Dylan's dad, Thomas Huffmon, said. "They don't see any problems coming in the future."
In January, an English Language Learners class at Staley contacted the Make-a-Wish Foundation and asked if they could help with one of their cases. After going through a list of possibilities, the class took Dylan.
The school raised money to send him and his family to Disney World this summer. The goal was $5,000. With some help from sixth graders at nearby New Mark Middle School, they raised $7,800.
His mom said when they asked him where he wanted to go, he didn't have to think about it very long.
"He wants to ride rides at Disney World," she said. "He's excited about the airplane, and he wants to go to the ocean."
The students who got the ball rolling are from around the world. They've endured their own hardships and could relate to Dylan's challenges.
"Their drive has increased a million percent," said Staley ELL teacher Heather Macintosh. "They're proud to be part of Staley, and they've made something big come true."
Dylan faces at least three more years of treatment to keep him cancer-free. It's not a slam-dunk, but he'll take some good layups.