In Memory Of A DIPG Warrior

There are DIPG warriors and angels. He was once a warrior and now he is an angel. His name is Zac Talley and he was 7-years-old when a rare form of cancer that only affects 200 children in the US a year took his life. But he was not just a child suffering from cancer, he was also a child that loved horses, Uno, and cracking jokes. Family says he was wise beyond his age.

I met his amazing family and friends this week and I want to tell you all about them.

Chrystal Terrell is his mother. She is sweet, kind, caring, and among one of the strongest people I have met. She has taken this tragedy and turned it into something good. When talking about Zac she smiles and laughs at the memories, and when she cries she says she shouldn't because Zac would be mad at her during those moments. In Zac's memory she created the Zac Attack Foundation. She hopes to spread awareness about diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, the cancer Zac had. She hopes enough awareness will lead to a cure.

Tyler is Zac's best friend and twin. Nothing could separate the two. They did practically everything together. Tyler loves looking back at the time that Zac put underwear on his head and pretended to be Captain Underpants. He and Zac played a lot of baseball together, as well as many other sports. He and Zac shared that twin connection you always hear about. He doesn't go anywhere now without wearing a Zac Attack shirt in Zac's memory.

Brandon is Zac's older brother. He's a bit shy, but isn't tepid at all when it comes to talking about his brother. Brandon says he remembers Zac's smile and says life would be much easier if Zac were here now. He misses shooting hoops with Zac.

Megan is Zac's sister. She says because of Zac's love for horses she is inspired to become a veterinarian. She remembers reading the bible next to Zac's bedside when he was in a coma and he couldn't make it to church. A sparkle seems to twinkle in her eye when she talks about Zac.

Zac also has other brother and sisters and there was no question he loved them too. Terrell said one of the family's favorite memories is when Zac decided to take his family on a vacation to Tennessee through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Terrell said Zac had the choice of going to Disney World, but instead choose Tennessee so he could bring along his five brothers, sister, mom, and step-dad.

Finally there is Kristina Maddox. She is a family friend keeping Zac's spirit alive in a way so big no one could ever imagine. Kristina decided to enter the Toyota Racing Sponsafy Your Ride contest to create a car in memory of Zac and to raise awareness about DIPG. Now she's asking for the community's help to win this contest. Maddox is an interactive digital media major at North West University in Maryville. She created the car green with baseballs on it because Talley played for the North Callaway little league team. It reads "DIPG Warriors" and "Zac Attack" on the car. With the eighth car out of more than 40,000 cars, she may get that wish. The top 10 cars will be featured on TV during the Nascar Sprint All-Star race. The winning design will be applied to a real race car. People can vote once a day until March 21. Kristina says he grew up with Zac and hopes this contest will bring DIPG awareness to a national platform.

Everyday we hear of people dying. But behind each of those deaths is a family mourning and grieving. To hear those families share those memories feels as if that person has come back alive. I will never forget the Talley's and Maddox's.

Zac seemed like an incredible little boy and I wish I had the chance to meet him. I hope he continues to inspire people like me in the years to come.

From A Reporter's Viewpoint

As a reporter, there was one story that stuck out to me. Before interviewing Megan, I asked if she had ever been interviewed before. She told me once right after her brother passed away she was walking away from her softball game when a reporter ran up to her and thrust a microphone in her face asking "are you the girl whose brother died?" I was stunned when she told me this. It's something she will never forget... It saddens me when reporters don't take in consideration a person's feelings, especially a young girl like Megan. They may argue that they need a story, but my response is good luck getting a good story that way or rather good luck getting a story at all.

It was a struggle writing this story because I wanted to share everything, I wanted to include everyone, but unfortunately I didn't have time. Even the stories above I wrote above are only a quarter of what I learned about the family. I've also been trying to do different things with my stories and I really don't think the intro worked... but you can watch for yourself!


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