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Fort Kent youngster supporting friend fighting cancer with birthday benefit walk

FORT KENT, Maine — Devon Cyr is no stranger to helping his friends. The soon to be  fourth-grader will celebrate his 9th birthday on July 9, and just as he did when he turned 7, Cyr is dedicating his birthday celebration to others.

For his birthday this year, rather than receive presents, Cyr wanted to raise money to support classmate Kearston Albert, who is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Albert was first diagnosed with the illness when she was just 3 years old, and despite several recurrences of the cancer, has defeated the disease in every round thus far.

Cyr donated money he raised for his 7th birthday to the Fort Kent Elementary School playground fund. This year, along with his parents and brother, he will host a benefit walk for Kearston, who will undergo further treatments in Philadelphia, including chemotherapy and T cell infusions, in the coming months.

“Devon and Kearston are in the same grade. He’s known her for a long time. He cares about her,” said Davis Cyr, Devon’s brother and a student at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. “Devon has a big heart and a large capacity of love. He always wants to help others, That was one of the things he said he wanted to do for his birthday. He wanted to help (Kearston) with her health issues. We took it from there to create the benefit walk.”

“Devon’s Birthday Benefit Walk” will take place at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center Thursday, July 12, and is open to walkers of all ages and abilities, including children in strollers. Davis Cyr said he would like for people to wear red and/or gold clothing if possible.

“Kearston’s favorite superhero is Iron Man. His colors are red and gold. Iron Man, I believe, is the symbol of her many battles she’s had with cancer,” he said. “She’s been through more than any one person should. Her courage and her will is incredibly inspirational. She is one of my heroes.”

Devon and Davis Cyr’s mother, Lynne Cyr, also is moved by Albert’s long battle against cancer. She said Devon Cyr, who has Down syndrome and is a Special Olympian, has received much community support.

“Devon is so rich in love and faith. The community has always supported him not only in Fort Kent but in the St. John Valley. We are asking people to show their support by donating $9 for his 9th birthday,” Lynne Cyr said.

“The Albert family is also rich in love and faith,” she said. “They are experiencing a little setback with Kearston’s health.”

She said the family wanted to show its support by having donations help the family with travel and other expenses.

Devon Cyr also will be walking for Albert, who may be at the event depending on how she is feeling, according to her mother, Sheri Albert.

Devon’s Birthday Benefit Walk will start at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center. There is no need to pre-register and all walkers who show up will be welcome.

The recommended donation is $9 per person to support Kearston Albert’s fight against cancer.

The cause received a boost this past weekend, when Devon and his family traveled to Skowhegan for a celebration to honor Fr. Jim Nadeau on the 30th anniversary of his ordination on July 9 and his birthday on July 10. Devon’s birthday is on July 9, the same day as Fr. Jim’s ordination.

“He has always had a very close and special connection with Fr. Jim,” said Lynne Cyr. “Our family went to Mass before the celebration. Fr. Jim always recognizes parishioners that came to visit. At that time he recognized Devon and asked him to come up to the altar.”

Fr. Nadeau shared a bit of their history together, and invited the congregation to sing “Happy Birthday.” He explained Devon was doing a benefit walk for his friend Kearston. The parishioners responded — and the Cyrs went home with $778 for the Albert family, bringing the total they have collected so far to $1,300.

The Skowhegan parishioners promised their prayers and will pass a basket for Kearston this coming weekend.

“Strangers came up to us and donated,” said Lynne Cyr. “The kindness of strangers was very heartwarming. It brought tears to my eyes.”

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