This will be the first Christmas the Homler family will have without their son, Tyler. In light of the holiday season, they want to bring awareness to a disease that is affecting 4 other families in the area.
"Tyler was the most loving, he loved everyone. He was outgoing. He really just loved everybody,” says Byron Homler, Tyler's father.
Tyler and his father, Byron were playing catch one spring afternoon last year when his father noticed something off about Tyler's eye.
"When he got up close to me I noticed one of his eyes were facing inward just a little bit,” says Byron Homler.
What was thought to be a lazy eye turned into a more serious diagnosis.
"She said your son's got a brain tumor, and we about passed out, but it was like ‘okay what do we do let's do this thing,’ and she said ‘that's the problem, your son has DIPG,’” says Byron Homler.
Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, is the leading cause of death in pediatric brain tumors. There is no effective treatment, and a zero percent survival rate.
"You have to leave the room every couple of minutes because you're stuck with looking at your son who's normal, and you know taking in what the doctor just told you that your son's going to die within a year,” says Byron Homler.
Tyler and his family kept faith through different types of treatment. 10 year old Tyler kept looking to the Lord and his parents for guidance.
"It was just amazing. Every time we were together or we would finish eating or company was leaving he would insist let's pray let's hold hands,” says Tosha Homler, Tyler's mother.
"One of my hardest memories is Tyler looking at me saying I've got the upmost- with tears running down his eyes he wanted to walk so bad like normal- he said I have the upmost confidence in you, Dad. Help me. I know you can. And we couldn't,” says Byron Homler.
"We had hope all the way until probably the last two weeks. We really believed,” says Tosha Homler.
Tyler passed away within days of his eleventh birthday. Tosha and Bryon want to raise awareness for DIPG. They hope this disease will one day become curable, and that no other parent has to experience a child being taken too soon.
"No family should have to bury anybody, let alone their 10-year-old child. You know, that's so full of life, that's so innocent, that has faith in the world that everything is great,” says Byron Homler.