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Tragedy can breed learning opportunities

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Sometimes angels walk amongst us; sent here to teach lessons that otherwise may not be learned. It is always sad when they leave us, but if the lessons are taught properly, their spirit remains behind in the people that loved and respected them.

One such 11-year-old Longfellow Elementary School student, Ross MacNeill was one of those special entities that left behind a legacy for the masses to follow. Ross was only 11-years-old when he succumbed to the cancer that riddled his young body. The young boy suffered from brain cancer, but this did not affect his purpose here on earth; to raise money for pediatric brain cancer.

According to an article that appeared on the Wheaton Patch on Monday, March 24th, Ross’s mother, Kim MacNeill, stated that her child had asked his family to ensure that other children would not have to "go through what he went through," so he asked them to do what they could for the sake of these other children.

Fortunately his family deciphered Ross’s plan and is carrying it through with intensity and excellence! Last week Ross’s classmates and friends gathered back on their old stomping grounds to remember MacNeill and to further his dream of raising money for pediatric brain cancer during the second annual Dodgeball Madness Tournament Fundraiser.

The dodgeball tournament was conducted last Thursday and Friday, March 20th and 21st at Franklin Middle School. All proceeds went to the Ross K. MacNeill Foundation; the Foundation his family established in his name so as to end pediatric cancer – according to the foundation’s website.

Displaying that the life lesson Ross was most likely sent here to teach, more than 50 teams signed up to play in the Tournament. Entrance fees and raffle prize contributions netted $4,000 for this very special foundation showing that The MacNeill spirit is alive and well in those that this angel left behind.

The foundation's mission is to help fund and "accelerate research for pediatric brain cancer," and also provide "help for the homeless, which was important to Ross," according to the Daily Herald. This child was very special indeed if for no other reason than his big heart!

For those that will receive the benefit of his giving – even after his death in 2013 – they will remember this young hockey player for his true spirit of love. Perhaps because of his desire to set the world right, this young man, although lost too soon in life, will teach others to pay-it-forward to people that they will never get the opportunity to meet. It seems as if he is already doing this if you just take a moment to look at the participants in this year’s Dodgeball Tournament.

If you would like to join the team of fellow givers, go to http://www.r33m.org/#!donate/c1ghi. It is never too early to pay-it-forward like Ross is continuing to do!

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