A terminally ill Blount County boy celebrated becoming a teenager Monday with the help of local first responders.
The Blount County Sheriff's Department, Alcoa Fire Department, AMR ambulance crews, and Maryville Fire Department arrived to personally wish Lucas Hembree a very happy 13th birthday Monday.
Lucas' family has remained optimistic and proud of the boy's fighting spirit. But they also know this could be his last birthday, as Lucas is now in Hospice care.
Lucas received a fatal diagnosis at the age of three. A genetic disorder called Sanfilippo syndrome was already in an advanced state, so doctors believed he may live until he was 10 years old.
His family asked people from across the country to send him a card to celebrate, and he received more than 750 as of Monday.
Cards can be mailed to:
- Lucas Hembree
1454 Mimosa Dr
Louisville, TN 37777-4606
Many people in East Tennessee know the story of Lucas and his service dog Juno. Juno was a rescue from the Tri-Cities saved by the Hembrees on the day he was scheduled to be euthanized. Juno worked as Lucas's service animal until his death in December.
"The last year, 2019, was a really tough year for Lucas. He got pneumonia and lost a lot of his lung capacity. Juno died in December. It's just been a lot of hardship. We want to make sure he has a happy birthday. The birthday card campaign was an idea that came from a similar thing a few years ago when everyone sent him Christmas cards. He loved it. And that's something he can still enjoy because he can't go outside or play. He's trapped in his own body," said Chester Hembree.
Chester said the cards will not only brighten Lucas's day. They will serve as a reminder to his siblings of how much people cared for Lucas.
"It's something his little brothers can look at later down the road, and maybe share one day with their kids. They'll be able to say this is the legacy of love that Lucas had. This is how much people loved and cared for him. With everything he's gone through, for people to spend a couple of dollars on a card will help the whole family," said Chester Hembree.