WEST JORDAN — A little boy who won the hearts of a community and nation in his last days of battling leukemia died Tuesday morning.
Ethan Van Leuven, 4, died at 10:20 a.m. at home surrounded by family. His parents expressed their appreciation for the support they received from the community.
“We are so grateful that each of you has helped in some way along this journey. Ethan is at peace now and will no longer battle with disease. He has passed his mortal test and will return to live with Heavenly Father for eternity. How grateful we are for the Atonement of Jesus Christ who makes this possible. We are grateful for inspired church leaders who have provided words of comfort during the process,” his father, Merrill Van Leuven, wrote on his Facebook page.
“How grateful we are for having him in our family for these few years. We will post more information later. God bless you all! You each have a special place in our hearts for all the good you do!”
Neighbors and community members came together to make sure that Ethan’s final days were filled with joy.
Ethan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 22 months old. After years of treatments, remissions and relapses, the Van Leuvens found out the treatments were not working.
And so they held Halloween and Christmas celebrations and Ethan’s birthday party during his final week.
Mascots, Santa Claus, police officers, firefighters, neighbors and people dressed up as Indiana Jones, Darth Vader and other characters came into Ethan’s life to help with Halloween, his early birthday celebration and Christmas festivities.
Many expressed their gratitude for being able to help.
"You are our hero," Bluffdale officer Aaron Rosen said over his police car's speaker, at the head of a nearly 100-person parade during Ethan's birthday celebration Thursday. "Thank you for being a part of our lives, Ethan. Our hero."
From here, the family will face medical and funeral costs, so a friend created a GoFundMe account to help. To donate to Ethan's family visit gofundme.com/EthanourHero or facebook.com/fundraiserforethan.