He is an indescribable, inspirational 10-year-old kid who has a love for life and dancing.
Isaac Akers, son of Mike and Rachel Akers of Cambridge, has stage 4 neuroblastoma. This is a type of cancer that develops from immature nerve cells found in several areas of the body and often occurs in children, according to the Mayo Clinic. Isaac first contracted the disease when he was 3 years old and beat it, but relapsed in the fall of 2011. Doctors recently gave him two weeks to two months to live.
In an effort to celebrate Isaac’s love of dancing and also help raise funds to help his family with expenses incurred as a result of his treatments, a Performing Arts for Isaac Fundraiser Event has been organized. The event will take place Saturday, Aug. 10, at 2:30 p.m. at the Huxley Amphitheater, near the intersection of South Main Avenue and West Railway Street.
Community members are encouraged to participate in the event through performing dances, singing songs, reading poetry or giving any other performance of their choosing. Performers will pay a fee, depending on how many performances they give, to help raise money for the Akers family. A silent auction will also take place during the fundraiser and donations will be accepted. While there will be some bleacher seating at the fundraiser, community members are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. In the event of bad weather, the fundraiser will be moved to Amy’s School of Dance, 105 Campus Dr., Huxley.
Fulfilling a love of dance, music
Amy Murphy of Amy’s School of Dance is organizing the event with the help of Jolene Murry, who was Isaac’s aid at school when he was in second grade. Amy met Isaac about five months ago when Jolene brought him to her, inquiring if he could take dance lessons. Amy welcomed him into her studio, and he’s been an inspiration to her and the other dancers ever since.
"You don’t realize this kid is sick because he does all the things the other kids do," Amy said.
Not only did Isaac’s participation at the dance school impact his teacher and fellow students, it also affected him. He even set up a DancingIsaac account on YouTube to show off his dancing moves to the world.
"His quality of life went up after he began dancing. He started staying at school longer," Amy said.
Isaac performed at every recital held earlier this year, including the Just For Her Women’s Expo, where he performed a solo to Michael Jackson’s "Billie Jean." During one of the recitals, he had to go get a blood transfusion, but came back to continue with the recital.
Along with his love of Michael Jackson, he also is a fan of One Direction. Last Friday, Isaac and a group of family and friends attended the One Direction concert in Kansas City, Mo. Since the Make a Wish Foundation only grants one wish per child, and Isaac had already used his wish during his first bout with the disease, Blank Children’s Hospital purchased the tickets for the show and community members made donations so the family had very few expenses on the trip. His experience at the concert included a limo ride, VIP treatment and backstage pass to meet the band.
Touching lives of those around him
While Jolene helped Isaac during second grade, it was not until last fall that she began getting closer to the Akers family, which, along with Isaac’s parents, includes brothers Zach and Corey.
"They’re an amazing family and they’re always so positive," Jolene said.
When Jolene was facing being laid off this past spring, Isaac assured her everything was going to be OK and gave her the inspiration she needed to go back to school. And when Isaac came to visit her after she had surgery on her foot, he checked out her foot and asked how she was doing. After she told him her foot hurt a lot, Isaac told her it could not be as bad as the pain he had gone through.
"He’s very strong and he’s faced a lot, but doesn’t seem scared," Jolene said. "He worries about other people more than he worries about himself."
One of the first people Isaac asked to go to the concert with him was his friend, Katy Murry, Jolene’s daughter. The two met when Jolene visited Isaac and his family, and their friendship grew stronger through their shared love of dance.
"That was their bond," Jolene said.
Katy would often help Isaac in dance class, since Isaac could not hear very well as a result of his first bout the with disease, Amy explained. Katy and Isaac were hoping to perform a dance routine together at the fundraiser, but since Isaac has not been feeling well, Amy will dance in Isaac’s place.
Amy hopes to turn the fundraiser into an annual event in memory of Isaac. Those wishing to participate in this year’s fundraiser may contact Murphy at 515-205-0987 or firstname.lastname@example.org. While performers are encouraged to sign up ahead of time, they may also do so the day of the fundraiser.