On March 25, 4-year-old Brodie underwent his final chemotherapy treatment for stage 3 Burkitt lymphoma, a milestone that many cancer patients mark by ringing a bell. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the moment was met without the usual fanfare. While the California-based boy was able to have his favorite nurses, chaplain and a child life worker present, no friends or family members other than his mother could attend.
On June 7 — which this year marked National Cancer Survivors Day, Brodie’s first since being declared to be “officially in remission and free of all cancer,” says mom Ali Nicole — he finally got his due, and it’s all thanks to a collection of terrifying-looking clowns from a local horror house.
On Sunday, characters from Ranch of Horror in Turlock, Calif. gathered alongside Brodie’s loved ones to host a socially distanced drive-by parade and bell ringing ceremony featuring a custom bell the haunted attraction had made for the boy who, as his mom puts it, has a fixation on “creepy clowns.”
“All my kids love scary movies,” Ali Nicole, who prefers to not use her last name, tells Yahoo Life. “Never thought one of my kids would totally love creepy clowns though.
“This kid has no fear,” she adds. “And if he says he's scared he's pulling your chain — and probably getting ready to scare you himself.”
While Pennywise from It is Brodie’s favorite clown, he’s got a special soft spot for Ranch of Horror’s motley crew of costumed characters, who have made headlines for offering door-to-door deliveries for Valentine’s Day. Though Brodie’s Valentine’s Day gram was rescheduled when he had to go to the hospital for treatment, he later received visits for St. Patrick’s Day and Mother’s Day. It was on the latter holiday that the Ranch of Horror team learned that he was now in remission, inspiring them to plan something special in his honor.
“Our clowns instantly fell in love with how excited this little guy was to see our scary clowns,” says Ranch of Horror’s Heather May.
Indeed, mom Ali Nicole says her son’s face “lit up with joy” as a collection of clowns sporting demented masks, paint-smeared outfits and sinister smiles led a parade of cars packed with well-wishers cheering him on. Attendees also brought painted rocks for Brodie’s personal rock garden, plus presents from the Ranch of Horror crew, whom his mother now considers “very much like family.”
“It was the happiest I have seen him in a very long time — especially when he started to see his creepy clown friends,” she says. “He was jumping up and down in excitement.”
It’s been a long overdue celebration for Brodie, who was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma last December, just a month after turning 4. Within a week of his diagnosis, he’d undergone surgery, started chemotherapy, experienced renal failure and was put on dialysis. He now calls the marks on his neck left by a catheter his “vampire bite.”
“It was a very long, hard time,” says his mom. “We had more bad days than good, but we truly cherished the good days.”
"He has faced one of the scariest monsters of all,” adds Ranch of Horror co-owner Travis Regalo. “Scary clowns are nothing but fun and games."
Read more from Yahoo Life:
Want daily lifestyle and wellness news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life’s newsletter.