The youngest parade marshal in Cleburne High School Homecoming history will lead Thursday’s Homecoming Parade.
Coleman Elementary fourth grader Brody Nelson, who has captured the hearts of thousands with his valiant battle with cancer, has been chosen by the CHS Ex-Students Association Homecoming Committee to serve as 2018 Parade Marshal.
Alumni recognitions also includes Wall of Fame Inductee James Wright, CHS Class of 1959 and Cleburne graduate Allyson Arnold House, who will preside over Homecoming festivities as Coming Home Queen.
Thursday’s Homecoming Parade, set for 6 p.m., will follow the same route as in previous years, starting on Harlin Drive by the high school, heading east, before turning south on Woodard, passing behind Wheat Middle School. The parade will then turn north on Colonial, passing between Wheat and the high school before returning to the staging area within the Cleburne Bible Church parking lot. A map of the parade route can be viewed on the CISD website, c-isd.com.
A community pep rally and the traditional bonfire will be held after the parade. This year, due to site conditions on the high school grounds caused by recent rains, the events will be staged in the field adjacent to Marti Elementary School, 2020 W. Kilpatrick (Hwy 4 West).
“Awesome,” was the response from this year’s Parade Marshal, when asked about the opportunity to lead this year’s Homecoming cavalcade. Brody also views it as an early birthday present, as he will be turning 10 in October.
“He’s so excited,” Brody’s mother, Courtney Nelson, said. “The first thing he said after we told him the news was he needed a green jeep to ride in. Green is his favorite color. Hopefully we can come up with one.”
Shaylynn McDonald, a member of the Ex-Students Association Homecoming Committee, said while it was a first to honor a Cleburne student, rather than a graduate, everyone involved is very pleased with the decision.
“Brody has been such an inspiration,” McDonald said. “His face lights up the world. He and his family have displayed such faith and that has touched everyone. I think there are people who have reached out and grown in their faith because of Brody. It’s been so wonderful to see how the community has supported him. This is just another opportunity to celebrate this precious child and what he has come to mean in our community. He is so excited to be the parade marshal and we are excited to honor him.”
Brody’s journey began in January, when a plum-sized tumor was removed from his brain in an eleven-hour surgery. This was followed by a series of radiation treatments. Teachers and fellow students at Coleman Elementary began wearing “Brody Strong” tshirts every Thursday to show their support for the student and his family, which includes father Ty, and sister, Emily, who attends Smith Middle School.
When Cleburne High School Soccer Coach Christie Vick and the Lady Jackets learned about Brody’s battle, they joined the fight in hosting Brodie Strong Night. Jackets Baseball players and coaches took it a step farther, making Brody an honorary member of the varsity team.
Brody’s battle has ultimately taken him to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for treatments, the most recent occurring over the summer.
“We found out the first of June that the chemo he was on wasn’t working,” Courtney said. “The tumor originally taken out was back, and was the size of a lemon, and there were more tumors as well. “
Through testing, the St. Jude staff discovered a mutation in the tumor that could be addressed by a new series known as TRK—or “Star Trek.” He will be involved in treatment over the next two years.
“Brody is on the Star Trek trial,” Courtney said. “There’s another patient also on it—a little girl, and she and Brody have met. Within two weeks of the start of the new medication, we knew something good was happening. He was definitely much more ‘Brody’ in the way he felt and acted. The required steroids have done a number on his body, but have helped him through in getting the chemo to start working.”
After two rounds of treatment, the larger tumor is not of a measurable size—and the other tumors are gone.
“When the doctor gave us the update, he said, ‘in my profession, we call this a miracle,’” Courtney said. “Those smart science folks don’t typically use that term. While this is a trial, and though the tumor has shrunk dramatically, his treatments are far from over. The good news is, when he acts a little ‘not Brody,’ we know it’s because of the chemo, not the tumor.”
The soon-to-be ten-year-old is aware of the battle he is fighting--where he was and where he is going as the journey continues.
“The doctor sat down with Brody this last time and let him see the progress,” Courtney said. “This has made a great difference. He had been closed off about it, and we believe, very stressed. He’s much more okay now—about being Brody and what he is dealing with.”
“When someone asked about how he was doing, he replied, ‘I’m just a nine-year-old boy trying to fight cancer,’” she said. “That made me realize how much he’s known this entire time.”
The Coleman Colt will continue with his school work from home, working with a CISD teacher, while his chemo continues. But he isn’t “homebound” by any stretch.
“He’s at football games and other activities,” Courtney said. “We are all trying to live as normally as possible.”
Brody had a front row seat with the Jackets football team at a recent pep rally, walking in with players during the school fight song. He is also busy advocating for St. Jude and what the facility does for young warriors battling cancer, and their families.
“He’s definitely in a give-back mode,” Courtney said. “He thinks of himself as the local spokesperson for St. Jude.”
Before, and even more so since he began his journey, Brody has chosen Christian music as a comfort in the hard times, and in the moments of joy and celebration.
“’Let Them See You in Me,’ is what he sings over and over,” Courtney said. “That is what is in his heart. He wants people to not see the kid that has cancer, but rather the kid in whom God has performed a miracle.”
Brody Nelson, right, pictured with Wide Receiver Isaak Cunningham, was a special guest of the Jackets at the last Cleburne High School pep rally. The Cleburne fourth grader has been named the 2018 Homecoming Parade Marshal by the CHS Ex-Students Association.