The perseverance of a 13-year-old boy who was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery and chemotherapy in a matter of months is a lesson in courage for those around him
Like a lot of 13-year-old boys, Colin Wilcox looks up to his dad, the man who taught him to hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors.
But now it is the son who is teaching the father valuable lessons — how to handle adversity and inspire others.
Colin, who lives in Belgium with his mother Debbie, father Kevin and sister Neta, was diagnosed in February with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer that typically afflicts children and young adults, after injuring his knee in a minor snowmobile accident.
“We could tell nothing was broken, so we told him to wait it out,” his father said.
The pain, however, did not go away. A few weeks later, doctors discovered a racquetball-size tumor in his knee that required surgery.
Surgeons had to remove his entire knee and seven inches of the femur bone in his leg. Colin has been fitted with a prosthesis that will allow his knee and leg to grow normally.
“In a way, it was sort of like divine intervention that Colin had the snowmobile accident,” his father said. “Without it, we may not have caught this tumor.”
Colin went through 16 weeks of chemotherapy treatment before getting a reprieve the last few weeks.
Almost overnight, Colin’s life was turned on end — from a normal active kid to a teenager one fighting a deadly disease from a wheelchair.
But he hasn’t let it stop him.
Colin continued to shoot trap from his wheelchair for the Cedar Grove-Belgium trap-shooting team throughout his treatment and particpated in the state meet earlier this month.
His coach, Dan Nett, said Wilcox has been an inspiration for the team.
“To see what Colin has gone through and know that he is still able to do what he loves is really inspiring,” Nett said before the team’s season-ending banquet Saturday. “He practices when he can and is an inspiration for all of us.”
At the state meet, Colin hit 85 out of 100 targets.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the group,” Nett said of Wilcox’s performance. “It’s really been a heartwarming story.”
Colin started a 20-week round of chemo Tuesday at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. He goes for treatment at least once a week and his father said his chances for remission are good.
“We have had a lot of blessings come our way with all of this,” Wilcox said. “I tell everyone when I leave the hospital that I am so thankful for what we have.
“There are a lot of families there who don’t have the same outlook as us and won’t be bringing kids home.”
Colin is also an accomplished bow hunter who plants to hunt deer with his father this fall.
He will go bow hunting for boar with Ted Nugent in Michigan in October and will take an elk hunting trip out West at a later date.
“He has already shot three deer with a bow and a few more with a rifle,” Wilcox said. “He is a tremendous shot.”
Colin, an eighth-grader at Cedar Grove-Belgium Middle School, is being tutored at home.
The boy isn’t the only family member going through childhood cancer.
His 3-year-old cousin, Clayton Meinolf of Sheboygan, was diagnosed with leukemia last year and the two often have treatments on the same day at Children’s Hospital.
After Colin’s first treatment in February, Kevin said, he saw his son go up to a few inner city children who didn’t have parents there and asked them to play video games.
“I told him the best way to heal is to help heal others,” Kevin said. “I told him that I was so proud of him for doing that for those kids.
“I didn’t ask him to do that. He took it upon himself to do it on his own.”
Nett is helping to organize a benefit for Colin at the Sauk Trail Conservation Club on Saturday, June 14.
Beginning at 9 a.m., the event will feature free food, a raffle, auction, corn hole tournament, music and, of course, trap shooting.
“We did free food because we want people who may not have a lot of money to just come and enjoy Colin’s company,” Wilcox said. “We extend our gratitude to any family that can help us in any way.
“We know we will get through this and Colin will go back to being a regular kid again.”
The proceeds will help the family pay Colin’s medical bills.
Donations can also be made in Colin’s name at any Port Washington State Bank location.
“In five months, we hope to be ringing the cancer-free bell at Children’s,” Wilcox said.
Image information:SHOTGUN IN HAND, 13-year-old Colin Wilcox of Belgium posed with his coach Dan Nett (left) and father Kevin during a Cedar Grove-Belgium trap-shoot team banquet Saturday. Colin was able to participate in the season despite being diagnosed with a form of bone cancer and undergoing surgery and chemotherapy. Photo by Sam Arendt