PORTLAND, Tenn. (WTVF) — Christmas festivities are starting early in Portland, as the community rallies around a 7-year-old boy battling Leukemia.
Everett Kondus had the honor of turning on the lights on the city's official Christmas tree. It's normally a tradition that is done on the same day as the city's Christmas parade, but this year city leaders wanted to try something different.
"It's such a small thing in reality to have some lights up while a family has to go through such an ordeal, and a young man has to go through treatment," said Mike Callus, the Mayor of Portland. "This is a special community. The people here rally around things like this."
The Portland Chamber of Commerce sent an email out encouraging people to put up Christmas lights and decorations earlier than normal, and the response was incredible. Now festive scenes fill store windows, and lights frame buildings.
Many people across the city have followed Everett's battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He was diagnosed in 2018, when he was only 4 years old. After several rounds of treatment, he relapsed in July. He has been undergoing additional rounds of chemotherapy, and will be admitted to the hospital right after Thanksgiving for a bone marrow transplant. This means he will be spending the Christmas holiday in the hospital.
"We will be in the hospital for a minimum of a month," said Matt Kondus, Everett's father. "We will be locked down 100 days post transplant."
Matt says Everett loves Christmas, so spending the holiday in the hospital is disappointing. However, thanks to the generosity of the city of Portland, he doesn't have to miss out on all the festivities.
Residents and businesses are encouraged to decorate before Nov. 25, so Everett can drive around and see the decorations before he heads to the hospital. People are also asked to include an orange ribbon, or something orange in support of Everett.
There is also a parade planned to go by Everett's house before he is admitted to the hospital.