Hope for T.J. Rufty: Middletown, Md. welcomes home local teen ba

Hope for T.J. Rufty: Middletown, Md. welcomes home local teen battling rare form of cancer

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There's something to be said for living in a small town.  If you want to know why, just ask T.J. Rufty.  The community of Middletown, Maryland--population 4,200-- welcomed him home after a long, hard journey today, and many tears were shed.

T.J. was just three weeks from his high school graduation last may when he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer called Burkitt Lymphoma. He started chemotherapy treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which had devastating effects on his body.  

At his graduation ceremony, T.J.'s mom and youngest brother accepted his diploma on his behalf. 


Ironically, the chemotherapy that saved his life also left him paralyzed from the chest down.  Despite all he has been through, T.J. fought hard and recovered from severe complications three times.  He's now in remission, but is paralyzed.  

All the while, the community rallied around him, supporting T.J. and his family with fundraisers to help them fund his medical treatments.

Family friends say T.J. wanted to thank those who have supported him along the way.  The community organized the parade.  The Middletown Volunteer Fire Company fire truck led the parade with its sirens on.  It traveled through the town to Middletown High School, where T.J. went inside to have lunch with his friends.

Before he got sick, T.J. was an athlete.  The Middletown High football team presented T.J. with the game ball from their state championship.  

"Having my son home, it's like the first time I brought him home 19 years ago," T.J.'s mom told FOX 5.  "Bringing him home all over again to start our new normal."

But a parade isn't all he's come home to.  T.J. has a brand new room, which was remodeled for free by Paul Davis Restoration.  He's got extra-wide doors and a special shower to accommodate his wheelchair.  

When asked what he feels in his heart, T.J. said, "Love for these people."

Hope for TJ Rufty website: http://hope4tjrufty.com/

Facebook: Hope for TJ Rufty

(Photos by Beth Parker/FOX 5 DC)

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