GREENVILLE, Ky. (3/10/14) – "Normal is good," was the comment from Susan Foster, as she, along with her husband, Mike, and their daughter, Alexis, joined more than 500 students for a "Welcome Back Tyler" celebration at Muhlenberg South Middle School Monday, March 10.
Getting back to normal is a good thing, according to the Foster family, whose 13-year-old son Tyler, spent more than a year fighting cancer.
Monday morning Tyler Foster returned to school for the first time since January of 2013 when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer.
After over a year of treatment at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, doctors said Tyler was well enough to return to school.
As the school's gymnasium filled with enthusiastic students, Tyler and his family entered the gym to unison chants of "Tyler, Tyler, Tyler".
Several speakers were on hand for the ceremony.
Tyler was first welcomed back by the school's principal, Brian Lile.
"I may get in trouble for saying it, but this is truly a miracle of God," Lile said.
Lile told SurfKY News before the celebration that he was impressed with Tyler's ability to keep up with his school work over the past year, even as he endured a demanding and exhausting regiment of chemo therapy along with other aggressive treatments.
Lile presented Tyler with a new Louisville Slugger bat. Engraved on the bat were the words, "Tyler Foster, welcome back to MSMS. "
Shelby Jones, coordinator of the local chapter of the American Cancer Society was also on hand. "Isn't it a great day, we get to welcome Tyler back?" Jones asked the audience. She then presented Tyler with an American Cancer Society Survivor T-shirt."Tyler is, without a doubt, is a survivor," Jones said.
Vicki Yonts with the Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation presented Tyler with plaque which read "Seize the Day."
State Rep. Brent Yonts (D) had a special surprise for Tyler."Tyler, the whole state of Kentucky has been rooting for you and praying for you. And God has answered our prayers," Yonts said. "I know you've missed 13 months of school, but I would like to give you an excused absence to come to Frankfort to be a page for a day on the House floor. We'd also like to take you and your family on a tour of the governor's mansion, and possibly meet the governor if he is in."
Principal Lile then presented Tyler with a large banner which read, "Welcome Back Tyler." The banner was signed by the entire student body and faculty at MSMS.
After that, it was time for a lighter moment.
Music by the Soggy Bottom Boys, a special group made up of three long-haired, heavy bearded men in overalls, (who resembled several facility members at MSMS), played while the faculty celebrated and danced to the song "Footloose" while Tyler and the other students clapped along.
The event was slated as a surprise, but speaking with SurfKY News after the event, Tyler admitted that he had heard prior there was going to be some type of event.
"No, I was not surprised," Tyler said. "I knew it was going to happen, but I wasn't exactly sure what it was going to be. I'm just happy to be back."
Tyler said his favorite subject in school is science.
Tyler's sister, Alexis was all smiles."This is quite an event," Alexis said. "I am really happy."Alexis attends Madisonville Community College and is majoring in accounting.
Ms. Foster was also all smiles."In a way it's almost liberating," she told SurfKY News. "It's like a weight has been taken off my shoulders. This is for real. Tyler is doing great."
Mike Foster said he had been impressed with Tyler's persistence in keeping up with his school work through this year of long hospital stays and a heavy schedule of chemo-therapy.The school faculty have really been good about helping Tyler keep up with his school work," Mr. Foster said. "There have been some times he has not been able, but the school has made provisions and it's really been good. And getting back into our routine is good, really good."
Grayson Wells, principal of Muhlenberg South Elementary School, said he has known Tyler for several years. Last April, when interviewed by SurfKY News during an April, 2013 Fight Like A Foster 5K run, Wells said, "this fight is a personal one for me. Tyler was one of my students and his mother is a teacher's aide at our school. We're doing all we can to help the family."
Monday, Wells was on hand to join in the welcome back ceremony."The Foster family has the most positive attitude of any family I have ever seen."An upcoming softball tournament for the Foster family is scheduled April 19 at Dunmor Ballpark.
SurfKY News Reporter
Photos by Paul McRee
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