PITTSBURGH – The chartered fishing boat was meant to represent a celebration.
Chris and Brandie Weidman traveled with their three children from Birmingham, Ala. to Panama City, Fla., during Labor Day Weekend in 2020, bridging the gap from summer to fall with time on the beach, by the pool and out on the open ocean.
Spirits were high. Their middle child, Braxton, was 8 at the time and coming off an incredible performance in his city baseball tournament, hitting .700 with 16 RBIs on a run to the semifinals. His longtime nickname had been “10 Bucks” because of his jersey number and “because he’s money,” his dad beamed.
Braxton – a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy with a smile as wide as the Gulf Coast – could inject energy into any environment. He has long loved fishing and sports, rattling off jokes and just being a kid.
But on that charter, Braxton wasn’t Braxton.
He didn’t feel well. He was tired and reserved, and he stayed inside the cabin for almost the entire trip. After the family returned to land, Braxton slept for 16 hours. And he threw up during the drive home to Birmingham.
Something was all wrong.
Chris and Brandie immediately brought Braxton to the hospital for a CT scan, X-rays and a wide range of tests over the ensuing days. At the end of that week, Braxton asked to go to bed in a sleeping bag in his parents’ room, and he had a seizure at 5 a.m.
They rushed him back to the hospital.
Another CT scan displayed a lateral midline push in his brain.
An MRI revealed Stage 4 cancer.
“The most aggressive and deadly type of brain cancer,” Chris said.
There’s no cure. There was hardly even any warning. The Weidmans’ son, so naturally full of life, would have to fight to keep it.
He wouldn’t do it alone.
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