Aidan Zaugg

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  • "I feel so sorry for your loss. Almighty God has a limitless..."
    - Ms Bea
  • "Dear Tanya and family, We are sorry to read about your..."
    - Sam and Imogene H.
  • "i offer my deepest sympathy to this family. when tragedy..."
    - Veronica Robinson
  • "I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a baby is so hard to..."
    - Chan Pink
  • "Words cannot explain the joy I got from just watching Aidan..."
    - Jessica T.

RICHLAND -- Tanya Zaugg was in the shower praying on Easter Sunday 2006, two days after being told her 4-year-old son had a rare brainstem cancer that would likely kill him within a year.

Then the Richland woman says she heard God tell her, "The reason why Aidan has this is because he's supposed to bring the family and the community back together."

Aidan Zaugg died at home Monday afternoon, nearly 2 1/2 years after being diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.

The 7-year-old leaves behind a legacy of hope and a community more united. Aidan touched thousands of lives in the Tri-Cities, across the U.S. and abroad.

Red shirts and wristbands that read "Why Not Aidan?" have been spotted across the Mid-Columbia and even as far away as Sydney, Australia. His website, www.whynotaidan.com, had more than 600 visitors a day.

The energetic, green-eyed boy -- the actor of the Zaugg family -- always could be counted on to crack a joke or bring a smile to the many faces that constantly surrounded the Badger Mountain Elementary first-grader.

"Not a second for all our lives will our hearts not ache," Tanya said. "A boy can't be that special and not take a chunk out of your heart."

Though Aidan lost his fight with the cancer that 200 U.S. children are diagnosed with annually, his story of survival for 2 1/2 years after diagnosis -- which some consider a miracle -- has inspired the community since he was diagnosed in April 2006.

Doctors told the Zauggs about the inoperable terminal cancer's statistics and probable progression. But from the beginning there were no ifs.

Aidan wasn't just another statistic, his family said.

And he wasn't. After radiation treatments ended in June 2006, he began getting better.

"It's truly a solace that he provided so much hope," said Chet Hammack, his grandfather. "Before Aidan came along, there wasn't much hope."

He lived and remained symptom-free -- something unheard of before Aidan -- until last summer, when an MRI showed his tumor was growing.

Through it all, the community rallied around Aidan and his family.

Countless community fundraisers allowed the family to make it through the first year of paying for medical treatments, visits to Seattle Children's hospital and living expenses.

And since Aidan's cancer began advancing, the community -- both friends and strangers -- had rallied again to schedule fundraisers nearly every week, help the Zauggs with day-to-day tasks, keep a family member company while monitoring Aidan through the nights and lift Aidan's spirits with red balloons in his yard and best wishes.

"We're thankful for all the support," Tanya said. "The community support carried us through this."
Published in Tri-City Herald from Nov. 26, 2008 to Dec. 1, 2009