After a three-year battle with leukemia, Dylan Schroeder’s parents wanted to surprise their 6-year-old truck-loving son with a parade to celebrate his last dose of chemotherapy.
They had no idea how many people wanted to help.
For nearly two hours Sunday afternoon, hundreds of trucks of every size and purpose filed past an excited Dylan, his family, friends and neighbors in front of his Arlington Heights home. Horns and sirens blared and the engines of exotic cars roared as they joined in. Signs with messages acknowledging Dylan as a superhero — or a ninja, as he prefers — repeated what a sign in the Schroeder’s yard spelled out.
Dylan kicked cancer’s butt.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said Dylan’s dad, Fred Schroeder. “The sheer quantity of trucks, it was endless. I’m completely humbled and blown away.
“For Dylan, celebrating his last day of chemo here, 3½ years later, he’s done, he kicked cancer’s butt,” he added “I’m so grateful, I’m trying not to choke up here.”
The Schroeders managed to keep the parade a secret, which Fred called an “epic” feat.
“He deserves it,” he said. “The kid had a long road. Half his life has been battling leukemia.
“And he won.”
Dylan’s mom, Joanne, said his reaction made everything they’ve gone through over the past few years worth it.
“It was literally the best thing ever,” to see him so excited, she said. “It completely fills your heart, it makes every single tear on the difficult days really worth it just to be able to give him this at the end.
“He’s worked so hard and he’s had such a positive attitude.”
Dylan will still have blood draws every month for the next year, then every couple of months the next year. His parents are hoping he will be able to have his chemo port removed soon.
“It’s still a long road, but there’s no more treatment, there’s no more chemo, there’s no more medicine,” Fred Schroeder said.
As truck after car after jeep after motorcycle passed him, honking and revving their engines, Dylan seldom stopped waving or showing his enthusiasm.
“It was awesome,” he said afterward. How did it make him feel? “Really happy, happy, happy, happy.”
And when asked how he felt about not having to do chemo anymore, Dylan’s feelings were just as clear.
“Super, duper, duper, duper, duper, duper happy.”
“The parade was a lot more than I expected,” Joanna Schroeder said. “It was bigger, better, louder I think than anyone ever thought. It was unbelievable and we’re so grateful to this amazing community that we have that wanted to come out and help us and make the day for him.”
“As crazy as 2020 has been, there’s amazingness left in this world,” Fred Schroeder added. “There’s amazing people.”