SHEBOYGAN - While doctors are making great progress against childhood cancer, sadly, there is a reason we need the MACC Fund. For example, the story of Eli Hovey, a brave little moy from Sheboygan.
Memories are all Eli's parents Kelly and Michael have, after losing their 11-year-old son Eli to leukemia in May.
"As parents you develop dreams, and for your kids, help nuture dreams and things like that," Michael says.
Kelly adds, "That's really for me the hard part, things he wanted to do so bad, that he's not doing now. That's the hard part."
The Hovey's don't like to dwell on that. Instead, they like to remember their strong, healthy boy.
"He was a boy's boy, just good, a good friend, loved everything," Kelly recalls.
That's why it was concerning when their energetic child suddenly started acting strangely.
"He'd come home from doing something, and just fall asleep on the couch, we'd be like, 'OK, this is not Eli,' he never rested, was always going," Kelly says.
Doctors diagnosed Eli with leukemia in the summer of 2012. Michael admits as a father, he felt very conflicted. "Yeah, it's overwhelming, scary. You know, men are not allowed to cry, but hell, I cried."
In fact, Kelly admits it was often Eli comforting her.
"You know, I was just crying continuously, and he would, the nurse came in, and he goes, can you tell my mom to stop crying, because we're gonna have to get a drain in my room pretty soon," she laughs.
Doctors attacked the cancer with chemo, and it worked. But it also tore apart Eli's digestive tract in the process.
"He had a hole in his colon from that. His biggest complication," Kelly says.
Michael and Kelly know the doctors did what they had to do.
"Absolutely, we have no problems with any of the treatments, I mean it did what it was supposed to do," Michael notes.
Eventually, Eli's body couldn't take it anymore.
Sunday morning he woke up and he called me and I went into his room and I kinda bent down by him and I could just feel like the heat, and I'm like, 'Oh my gosh'," Kelly remembers.
Eli went into cardiac arrest, and never fully came out of his coma. Kelly says, "Then we had to make that choice, to take him off, and that's a hard decision--did you do everything they said--the brain damage."
They had to say goodbye to their little boy, after a 9-month cancer battle that felt like both an eternity and an instant.
"We're glad we had our 9 months to bond and spend with him, and meet the doctors and nurses and learn more about leukemia and the MACC Fund and Children's Hospital period," Michael says.
Luckily, Kelly and Michael have a powerful bond, and they know they need to stay strong for their older son Evan, a freshman in college, whom Eli adored.
"Eli was so excited about Evan graduating, just ecstatic. He was so proud of Evan," Kelly explains.
They're glad Eli's memory can live on through the MACC Fund.
"Why's it important, we need to research, need the money to find the researchers," Michael urges.
Kelly adds, "They're just so caring--you know, its not an act. They really truly care about those kids."
The MACC Fund Live Sports Auction is Saturday December 14 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on TMJ4.