Monday, August 31, 2009

Foundation keeps boy's memory alive

Tyler Scott was only 5 1/2, a charmer with bright eyes, but in his SouthPark area neighborhood he was known as "the workerman."

If his father, Howard, was mowing grass, Tyler was right behind him. Fall afternoons were his favorites -- he could spend hours blowing leaves into a pile.

Yet his mother, Dana, said Ty was never happier than when he put on a hard hat and double-wrapped a tool belt around his tiny waist -- loaded down with a hammer, screwdrivers and drills -- and he was running through the neighborhood near the Harris YMCA looking to drive screws into boards, or nail them together.

But suddenly in late January 2006, the workerman fell playing basketball. That night, he couldn't use his arm. His trademark smile began to droop. His parents took Tyler to his pediatrician, but got no answers.

Suddenly the Scotts were on a strange whirlwind of tests and specialists until an MRI showed the boy suffered from brainstem glioma, a horrifically aggressive brain tumor -- inoperable and untreatable, all words no parent ever wants to hear.

He died Feb. 8, 2006, nine days later.

To deal with his grief, Howard Scott started Tyler's Treehouse, a foundation named for the treehouse Tyler saw in a design book and asked for when he got out of the hospital.

Since then, the foundation has raised $165,000 for research on Tyler's form of cancer at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., where the boy spent a couple of days before he was airlifted back to Charlotte so his three brothers could say goodbye.

On Sept. 12, the foundation is hosting its annual Tyler's Treehouse 5K and 1-mile fun run and walk. As with the previous runs, the course is through Tyler's neighborhood, starting at Olde Georgetowne Swim Club on Whistlestop Rd., where Tyler learned to swim, down his old street (St. John Lane) and past his old preschool.

They'll have a golf tournament in October to raise more money.

"The fundraising events help," Dana Scott said. "It feels like we're making a difference in Tyler's name. What we went through is the most horrific thing any family could go through. You feel the pain every day. But by doing this, we hope another family doesn't have to suffer.

"And it does help keep Tyler's memory alive. We will never forget him, but it hurts when other people start forgetting."

By the way, that treehouse was built in the Scotts' backyard (pictured above with Tyler's family). It is 230 square feet, with bunks, lights, a TV and video games. All the labor and supplies were donated.

The boy never got to use it. But brothers Chase, 13, Bryce, 11, and Aiden, 6, and friends from the neighborhood do all the time.

Fitting for a workerman, who when he was taken off life support breathed for another 8 hours -- a full work day.

Fundraiser runs on Sept. 12

The Tyler's Treehouse 5K and fun runs is Sept. 12 at the Olde Georgetowne Swim Club, 7930 Whistlestop Rd. near the Harris Y. The 5K starts at 8 a.m., and fun run/walk at 9 a.m., with a party at the club afterwards.

To make a donation and for information on the foundation press here.