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Team Jose: Overwhelming support from family, friends, strangers for boy facing battle of his life

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SLINGER -- Young Jose Rivera's motto is "keep moving forward." His attitude and his love for others have inspired his family and an entire community, even as they pray for a miracle.

Rivera lives to play sports. The eighth grader at Slinger Middle School was a happy, healthy 13-year-old boy having the time of his life with his many friends and teammates.

Jose Rivera

Jose Rivera

But earlier this year, Rivera was diagnose with osteosarcoma -- a rare form of bone cancer that has attacked his body like no sports opponent ever could.

"I was just praying that I would get better because the pain was just unbearable," Rivera said.

The diagnosis devastated Jose's father, also named Jose, and his mother Kelly.

"That forever changed my life. You hear of cancer, but you actually don't really know until it touches you," Rivera's father said.

Jose Rivera

Jose Rivera

"We got the diagnosis February 3rd, and I still can't believe it some days. That's my baby and I hate seeing him in pain and hate knowing he has to go through this. It's tough," Kelly Rivera said.

This family has already suffered unspeakable loss.

"We lost a child at three months old. His name was Emmanuel. And then my wife had a miscarriage when she was five months, so we have buried two children and we do not believe that Jose is ever going to get there," Rivera's father said.

Jose Rivera

Jose and Kelly Rivera's son is a remarkable young man blessed with an incredible attitude.

Jose Rivera

Jose Rivera

"Most of it comes from just knowing that everything will be OK one day. You just gotta look past this. These are just bumps in the road," Jose Rivera said.

Jose Rivera also has a wonderful sense of humor.

"I honestly can't tell you why I like the Bears. I think it's because I always liked the underdog, and the Packers, growing up, were always this great team. And the Bears, they normally lost a lot and still do, but I still like them," Jose Rivera said.

Rivera has the love, prayers and support of his many friends and their parents. They're "Team Jose."

Team Jose

Team Jose

"There are just so many people who have come out of the woodwork here in Slinger -- whether it's the middle school, the high school, all of the elementary schools, everyone has come to help out and show them that this community absolutely loves their son and do whatever we could to bring funds together to help them," Shannon Koch said.

Bradley Brewer was saving for Michael Jordan basketball shoes, but when his birthday came, instead of asking for gifts, the 14-year-old asked for donations for Rivera and his family.

Bradley collected $700.

Team Jose

Team Jose

"He's a really good friend of mine, and he needs all the support that he can," Brewer said.

"Everybody just wants to help and make him better. He knows we're all there for him, and we all love him," Aidan Duchelle said.

What does all the support mean to Rivera?

Team Jose

Team Jose

"I can't even put that into words. It definitely teared me up the first time I saw it all. They're just always there for me. They're amazing, and I don't know what I'd do without them," Rivera said.

The cancer in Rivera's body has not responded to chemotherapy, but he could become the first youngster eligible for a treatment that has helped some adults.

In the face of it all, the Riveras have an unshakeable faith.

"We were looking for a sign and we asked the name of the trial, and the trial is AOST 1521. It just so happens my address is 1521 Golden Road Circle. I truly believe -- that's where Jose lives, and this trial is going to keep him living there," Rivera's father said.

Rivera was able to leave Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and be home in time to celebrate his 14th birthday on Saturday, May 8th.

Team Jose

Team Jose

Fourteen friends came to a last-minute party. Other "Team Jose" members let their friend know they were there for him.

Rivera dreams of the day when he can play sports again, but he has a more important mission.

"Once things get better with me, I want to come back and talk to people with cancer and just let them know that you can get through it and you will get through it. I just really want to try and help give back what's been given to me," Rivera said.

Team Jose

Team Jose

A "Team Jose" benefit has been scheduled for Sunday, May 15th at Allenton Park beginning at noon. All proceeds will benefit the Rivera family.

CLICK HERE to make a donation to the GoFundMe.com account set up in Jose Rivera's honor.

2 comments

  • Renee Jepson

    Mr. Pipines, thank you for airing this story about “our family”. And to all that attend the benefit for Jose’ and his family; we thank you too.

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