VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Last week, 10 On Your Side introduced you to Landon Sanderl. He is a 12-year-old sixth grader at Lynnhaven Middle School who has battled cancer his entire life.
For many years, it’s just been Landon and his single mother, Jillian Sanderl. They share a special bond.
“She is really good at math,” Landon said. “She is the best mother I could have.”
Jillian is appreciative of how Landon’s classmates have reached out in support of her son.
“It’s very touching to see the amount of love and care from people who, a lot who are strangers, and have never met our family before,” she said.
Landon was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 10-months-old. Now, 11 years later, that tumor is considered inoperable.
Lynnhaven Middle has rallied around Landon, who by his own example has been teaching his peers about survival, courage and appreciation.
“People are different in different kind of ways, but Landon has a weird disease,” classmate Karah Warren said. “It makes you want to be more appreciated, be grateful for what you have.”
Landon added, “People in here can be my best friends, even though they are different, and that is special.”
Along with his classmates, Landon has unending support from his rock and his mother, Jillian. She says she’s thankful that Landon attends a school where he’s accepted.
During 10 On Your Side’s visit to Landon’s class, Jillian had tears in her eyes as she was hugged by school principal Dr. Violet Hoyle, who is all in helping Landon.
“Just to hear that kids are protective of him, it just really touches my heart, because if I can’t be here, there are people out there looking out for him as well,” Jillian said. “It’s beautiful.”
Another beautiful thing: The stampede of Landon’s classmates racing to the stage to get on stationary bikes used in Cycle for Survival to raise money to Crush Cancer.
They hop on the bikes and then when Landon comes up to ride, the crowd goes wild. The screaming and cheering for Landon is so loud, it distorts the sound coming into the microphone. Then, in unison, they start chanting, “Landon! Landon! Landon!” It gets louder and louder and goes on for a good solid minute.
After it was over, WAVY’s Andy Fox asked Landon what he thought of that display of support. He replied, “Because so many people were there for me and so many people knew who I was and were there for me.”
Jillian calls what she saw on this stage one of the most beautiful things she has ever seen.
“The easiest thing to do is to crawl up in a corner and just cry, and say, ‘Woe is me.’ Being able to come out, and share his story, and see the love from everybody else really gives you a feeling of hopefulness,” Jillian said. “It’s like you are making a difference in a terrible time. At least you are able to reach out, and hopefully touch one more person in your life.”
On Tuesday, Landon’s friends returned to that stage and biked for Landon. Students were giving $1 and up in the Crush Cancer campaign.