'Hooligans' make young man's day
John Murphy was a young guy who loved reading, fishing, playing games and other things boys like to do. What he absolutely didn't like, his dad says in his Web journal, was getting up early, going to bed early and "anything too girly." He was pop...
John Murphy was a young guy who loved reading, fishing, playing games and other things boys like to do.
What he absolutely didn't like, his dad says in his Web journal, was getting up early, going to bed early and "anything too girly."
He was popular with the other kids in his class in Hillsboro, N.D. They came to admire him, too, when he remained so courageous after it was found he had cancer about two years ago; John somehow was able to tough it out even when he was terribly sick from aggressive treatments.
So it was a shock when one day late last summer he announced he was through with chemo and wouldn't be coming back to class.
He really was saying goodbye.
This story is about John, yes, but it's also about a group of people who you know as your next-door neighbors who have carved a name for themselves in America's military history, the North Dakota Air National Guard's "Happy Hooligans," and what they did for a sick boy.
They made him Pilot for a Day.
John's parents are Jim and Denise Murphy, Cummings, N.D., his siblings are Steven and Rachel, and his grandparents are Kenny and Helen Farrell, Larimore, N.D., and William (better known as "Spud") and Bette Murphy, McCanna, N.D.
John was an altar server at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Parish, Hillsboro, a good student in school and a kid who, his family says, greeted each day with enthusiasm.
And, on Aug. 30, he was the guest of honor of the Hooligans.
Justin Mueller, Cummings, and a Hillsboro fifth-grader, was one of John's buddies.
It was Justin who wrote to Neighbors about what the Hooligans did for his pal. Here is Justin's report, just as he wrote it;
"My friend John had been battling cancer for two years, when the Happy Hooligans started 'Pilot for a Day.' John was the first person to do it.
"He was allowed to invite 10 family and friends. We had a wonderful time. John got to be an officer, got to play on a simulator, and lots of other things too.
"A few days later he discovered his cancer had gotten worse, so he decided to quit chemotherapy. Later that week the Hooligans visited him at his house. Just 18 days after being pilot for the day, he passed away. Some of the Hooligans even attended his funeral and burial.
"I just want to thank the Hooligans for letting John have probably the best day he ever had, and for creating a memorial with John we will never forget."
John died Sept. 18. He was 10.
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