Kid’s battle offers hope

Giving hope to people is the task of every superhero. And that’s just what 7-year-old Dominick Devecchis did by his presence among the hundreds of people at Mansion Park on Friday. His favorite superhero, Batman, would be proud.

Like all superheroes, Devecchis has a battle to fight. In March, he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer that predominantly affects adolescents.

Devecchis is young to be diagnosed with the illness. He turned 7 on Friday, during the 20th Relay For Life of Central Blair. He joined 800 to 1,500 people doing laps around the park track, but he did it in a wheelchair.

“I went around 50 times,” he said, resting under his team’s tent.

He smiled widely when talking about video games, the qualities of Batman, Spider-Man and Superman, his upcoming trip to Disney World and his future goals.

His parents, Kimberly and Steve Devecchis, said Dominick is scheduled for reconstructive leg surgery on Wednesday at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Dominick’s surgeon, they said, is a survivor of the same type of cancer Dominick suffers. The surgeon will place an expandable metal implant in Dominick’s affected leg. It will grow as he grows.

Steve said treatment for Osteosarcoma has drastically improved over the years.

“Today with chemo, it’s very effective instead of radical surgery,” Steve said.

Kimberly said after the surgery, Dominick will undergo 18 weeks of chemotherapy. He’s already had 10 weeks of chemo treatment. A baseball cap protected his scalp from the sun on Friday. Kimberly said she anticipates Dominick will enter the first grade at Frankstown Elementary School after Christmas.

“He should be in remission by this time next year,” she said.

Team Dominick was one of many teams at the Relay For Life that raised funds through the year to find a cure for cancer.

Relay For Life of Central Blair volunteer Chair Sue Boland said the fundraising goal by the end of today is $158,000.

Events at Relay For Life included a survivors’ lap on Friday. About 400 survivors participated.

Eli Austin, 22, of the Swiss Rifle Club Relay team was raising money throughout the day. He drew inspiration from seeing Dominick and other survivors, he said.

“You can see the smiles, and you know where the money is going,” he said. “Time on earth is precious, and every dollar can extend that.”

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.