MOUNT HOLLY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A Mount Holly teen who’s shown much compassion for children is now getting his share of love at a difficult time.
Aiden Love’s life turned this summer just weeks before starting high school.
He was diagnosed with leukemia in July.
“It’s really tiring with all the medicine and nausea… and a lot of hair loss,” he explained.
“I think the best way to describe it is a punch in the gut,” says Aiden’s mother, Katie, tearing up. “But he’s really brave, and he’s tough.”
In Mount Holly, the Love family is known for giving back, but last month, the tables turned at a local McDonald’s fundraiser.
“I’ve never seen McDonald’s that busy before,” she said. “I don’t even think I have words. It’s incredible to know the support.”
Beneath the Golden Arches, there was a groundswell of compassion for Aiden.
“It’s a little fundraiser for my family and raising money,” he said.
“We’ve got to lean on one another; we’ve gotta give,” says Tyler Beaty, who donated some money while in the drive-through.
“Thank you for coming!” Katie said to customers as they contributed.
“Oh, cheese!” Aiden said, posing for a photo.
Lately, the 14-year-old is not his usual picture of health.
His mom Katie watches him closely.
“You’re the one with leukemia; you need to sit down,” she told him.
Aiden’s cancer could have easily made him withdraw. But instead, his battle prompted him to give back.
“Just make their day a little better,” he said.
The Loves spread the love by paying it forward with messages of hope ironed onto neoprene popsicle holders for kids.
“Smile, love, hope, and faith. Just a few positive words to try and help,” says Aiden.
“That’s cute, do a smile on that one,” his mom said.
Four years ago, Aiden and his mother launched Tiny Hands.
He and his brothers all received care in the NICU when they were babies.
“It was kind of Aiden’s idea. What other way would be more perfect than to create care packages for moms and dads who are at the hospital,” Katie said.
Their Tiny Hands project has been on hold, and leukemia didn’t help.
“We thought it was just a cold,” Aiden said of his virus-like symptoms. “But then it kept getting worse and worse until, in July, my mother took me to the emergency room because it was just getting terrible.”
Katie says she feared it was cancer even before the doctor broke the news.
“I don’t expect one day to be having to stand in the bathroom and shave my child’s head because he has cancer,” Katie said. “It’s just kind of unthinkable, so I think that was when I had a big breakdown the other day.”
Sometimes, tears give way to inspiration.
They’ve expanded Tiny Hands to include Levine Children’s Hospital pediatric cancer patients.
The Loves bundled up everything from essential items to things that will help lift spirits.
“It’s just important because it can be tough in there. It can be super tough,” said Aiden.
The Loves say seeing the community rally behind him means a lot.
“It just helps you know they support you through it,” Aiden says.
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The guest of honor didn’t feel great at the McDonald’s fundraiser or on other occasions, but if you ask him, you’ll probably get the same reply.
“I’m good,” is his regular refrain.
Unfortunately, when he says he’s “good,” he’s not always being completely honest, but his demeanor gives comforting cues to loved ones who are worried sick.
“He’s had a peace about it, and I think that’s kind of helped us as his parents,” said Katie.
And for now, this family that’s given so much is getting a lot of love in return.
“Just don’t give up,” Aiden said.