Holidays come early for family forced to say goodbye

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WEST JORDAN — Tuesday night was Halloween in a West Jordan neighborhood near 4800 West and 9000 South, and in a few days it will be Christmas.

Neighbors there are working together to create a week of holidays for a family to enjoy before they have to say goodbye to their little boy.

Ethan Van Leuven is one tough 4-year-old, and he's fighting for each day on this earth.

At 22 months old, little Ethan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). After years of treatment, his family learned last week his fight is coming to an end.

“His leukemia has spun out of control and is no longer treatable,” Ethan’s father, Merrill Van Leuven, said Tuesday. “He was given a few days to several weeks left.”

“We’re not sure how long Ethan will feel good, and so we wanted to do it while he’s still feeling OK,” said Jen Van Leuven, Ethan’s mother.

So, with the help of loving neighbors and friends, Ethan donned his Superman costume and went trick-or-treating Tuesday evening.

“We just decided to do whatever we can to help the family,” neighbor Joseph Wilson said.

What is ALL?

"Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) ... is a cancer that starts from white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow (the soft inner part of the bones, where new blood cells are made).

"Leukemia cells usually invade the blood fairly quickly. They can then spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), and testicles (in males).

"... The term 'acute' means that the leukemia can progress quickly, and if not treated, would probably be fatal within a few months. Lymphocytic means it develops from early (immature) forms of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell."



“It’s all about Ethan,” said Bruce Butcher, a family friend.

On Thursday, the Van Leuven family will celebrate Ethan's fifth birthday a month early; on Friday, a big neighborhood Christmas Eve celebration is planned; then Saturday, the family will celebrate Christmas, Ethan's favorite holiday.

“It helps to see that there are still good people in the world,” Jen Van Leuven said.

It’s a big celebration for a little boy who has always been a superhero in his parents' eyes.

“I want him to know how proud of him I am for fighting through this and, amidst of his challenge, being an example of faith and strength,” Merrill Van Leuven said.

In addition to the week of celebrations, family and friends have set up charitable account* at Cyprus Credit Union to help pay for Ethan's medical expenses.

Those interested in sending cards or other forms of packages can send them through KSL TV.

ATTN: Shara Park, Ethan Van Leuven
55 N. 300 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

* has not verified the accuracy of the information provided with respect to the account nor does assure that the monies deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.


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