Community steps up for young cancer patient, raises more than $20K to send family on dream vacation

OLATHE, Kan. - An Olathe boy with cancer is headed for a dream vacation and it's all thanks to the generosity of the Kansas City community.

Braden Hofen was recently diagnosed with pre-leukemia that could eventually develop into AML, or acute myeloid leukemia.

This is the second time the 8-year-old has been diagnosed with cancer.

For the past five and a half years, Braden has battled neuroblastoma. He spent the last several years in a rare second remission from the disease.

His mother, Deliece Hofen, said they knew there was a small chance Braden would develop pre-leukemia as a result of the neuroblastoma treatments.

Unfortunately, doctors have told the family they don't know of any cases of children with both diagnoses surviving.

"Our reaction has been to try and find ways to enjoy life," Hofen said. "And make memories that cancer can never take away from us, no matter what the end is."

The Hofens were not planning on a family vacation this summer because of finances. But when they received the latest diagnosis, they decided to visit Disneyland for a couple of days.

Then, the community heard about their story. A family friend started a fund, and in five days it raised more than $20,000.

"It has been absolutely like getting a gigantic hug from the city," said Hofen. "It's unbelievable the compassion that exists in the people around us."

Since Braden loves water features, the family will spend a night at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Someone offered to help them get a room that overlooks the fountain.

Then, they will spend some time at Disneyland and San Diego. All made possible because of people, some of them, complete strangers.

"Thank you to everyone in KC for opening their hearts to Braden," Hofen said, choking back tears. "It means more than I can ever explain. To have everyone envelop him with all the love and thoughts and prayers."

When the Hofens return from what may be their final family vacation, they will start treatments to slow down the development of pre-leukemia.

To learn more about their fight against cancer, visit the Braden's Army Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BradensArmy

If you would like to make a donation to the family's vacation and medical bills fund, visit: http://www.gofundme.com/3izk2k

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