GALT, Calif. (KTXL) -- It was a day Timmy Schroeder will never forget.
“It started out when I was at a high school football game and my dad noticed bumps on my shoulder,” Timmy said. “And we went to see the doctor and apparently I had lymphoma cancer.”
He was just 9 years old at the time and would spend the next couple years in and out of the hospital fighting for his life.
“We didn’t think he was going to make it,” said Timmy’s mother, Anngela. “There was one horrible, horrible stretch and after the fact, the doctor said, ‘Well, we almost lost him.’”
But in the darkest moments, Timmy and his family found hope through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“Throughout that whole time, we would plan. ‘Hey, if we could go on a Make-A-Wish, Timmy, where would you go?’” Anngela recalled. “So, we would go on the website and look at other kids’ wishes and that gave him ideas.”
“Make-A-Wish was our light, our pin light at the end of the tunnel.”
Eventually, Timmy got his wish -- a trip to Disney World.
“I think it was fun to be normal again,” Timmy told FOX40. “I think it was very enjoyable to not have pins and needles and IVs around me, beeping.”
Timmy is cancer-free now. He took his last chemotherapy pill at what his family calls their “home away from home” -- Disneyland. The park staff had a crowd gather around to watch him take the pill in front of the castle.
When the Schroeder family realized the impact that little glimmer of hope had on their family, they knew they wanted to help other kids have the same experience.
“It gave him so much hope, and so we wanted to give other kids hope,” Anngela said.
That’s when Timmy Strong was born.
“My vision was, honestly, just a big party for the entire community,” Anngela explained.
The goal of the community event in Galt was not only to lift Timmy’s spirits during his treatment but also to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“It was a lot bigger than I thought it was going to be and I thought, ‘Let’s do it again next year and let’s make it bigger,’” his mother said.
This year’s fourth annual event was the biggest celebration yet and thanks to the internet, Timmy Strong continues year-round with thousands of people following his journey on Facebook.
“Every single day he’s opening doors for people in office buildings when we’re walking into buildings. He’s helping old ladies put stuff in their groceries in their grocery carts. He is so thoughtful,” Anngela said.
“I’m a stickler and I like to help other people,” Timmy said. “I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that life is unexpected and even in unexpectancy, you can persevere.”
Timmy is also working on getting all the kids at his school to write a letter to Santa this holiday season as part of Macy’s letter-writing campaign. For each letter written, the retailer will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.