TikTok users make cancer patient, aged 10, feel like a celebrity at Disney World after mum’s video goes viral
The video was shared by influencer Kristen Sotakoun and has been viewed more than one million times
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Drew was first diagnosed with cancer in 2019 and has undergone multiple surgeries to extract recurring tumours in his brain since then. His most recent tumour, which was discovered in February, had spread to his brain stem, however, meaning it was partially inoperable. Drew’s mother, Jennifer Patchin, aged 42, said doctors advised her family, including Drew’s youngest brother, Tyler, to "go make memories and travel" while they looked into more clinical trials for the tumour, as reported by NBC News.
So, Jennifer decided to fulfil every child’s dream and take her boys to Disney World - but she wanted the experience to be extra magical for Drew, so she turned to social media for help. She published a video on her TikTok page, asking for people’s help in making both her sons feel like celebs during their visit to the world famous park.
By chance, the video was seen and then shared by TikTok influencer Kristen Sotakoun, known as @notkahnjunior on the platform, who has over one million followers and is a former Disney World cast member. She called on current cast members to play along and give Drew and Tyler the star treatment. The video has received 1.4 million views.
Sotakoun explained her decision to share the family’s story by saying: “This is the easiest way to make magic ever, right? There is no effort required from anybody, really. And it could make such a big impact.”
The video had a significant and stunning impact, Jennifer’s sister Debbie Schultz said. Schultz also joined the family on their trip. She said that less than 10 minutes after arriving at the park Drew was approached by a cast member who asked for his autograph. She added that the family was then stopped around every 15 minutes by people who recognised Drew and Tyler from the TikTok video and wanted to say hello. Patchin said her children were very excited by the attention they received and that the experience was "magical” for them.
“It was over seven hours of people making a big deal over them and going, ‘Oh my gosh! You’re famous, I get to see you. I’ve been waiting for you. I’m so glad I got to see you.’ And then snapping selfies with them or giving them a sticker,” she said.
Social media users who weren't at the park on the day that the family visited, last month, also found a way to get involved. They shared their support for the boys by joining the Facebook group for Drew's cancer journey called Drew’s Crew and shared encouraging messages for them to read later.
She said that most of the support stemmed from social media, rather than her connections at the park. "This was completely the result of TikTok and completely the result of sharing on social media. I didn't ask my personal friends for any special treatment. This is 100% organically the power of people coming together on social media and having one goal of kindness.”
Patchin added that the small acts of kindness that her family has received since her video went viral have made a huge positive impact.
“Cancer families go through really hard stuff and something like this can make such a difference in our mindset and attitude. We're trying to make memories, have a special time together and stay helpful and positive. And this, both the night as it was happening and those reactions online, really make a difference in helping us in the fight.”