WARRENSBURG, Mo. -- A mail carrier in Warrensburg is championing the community to send cards and letters to a terminally ill teen before he dies.
Amy Harreld said her son, Matthew, has always enjoyed getting mail.
"He gets excited when he opens up his mail,” Harreld said. “He’d always ask us, 'Is there anything in there for me?'"
His wish for a letter or card with his name on it became even more important two years ago. After his family moved to Missouri from California, doctors diagnosed Matthew with Stage 3 brain cancer.
“Your world just falls apart,” his mom said as she wiped away tears. “He just goes through his day and acts like nothing bothers him, but for me, it’s hard.”
The 17-year-old, who’s also on the autism spectrum, underwent chemotherapy and radiation, and for a while, his family thought he was going to get better.
“He’s beaten the doctors numerous times,” Harreld said. “He made it home from the hospital. They said the radiation wouldn’t do anything for him, but the cancer started to shrink.”
However, in October doctors told the Harrelds the cancer had spread to other parts of Matthew’s brain. It was inoperable, and they gave him just two months to live.
“Knowing that his final days are coming, I can’t imagine,” said Lisa Thomas, the Harrelds' mail carrier.
When Matthew’s mom told Thomas about his diagnosis, she had the idea to ask the community to send him cards through the mail. The local paper helped spread the message.
"I'd seen something on Facebook about a birthday or something, and all they wanted was cards in the mail and it took off,” Thomas recalled.
So far, the idea is just a day-old effort, but the thought alone means everything to the Matthew’s family.
“We’ve never experienced anything like this before,” Harreld said. “I’ve always said, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.' Well I’ve never had a village until I moved here."
You can send a card or letter to Matthew at this address: Matthew Harreld, 50 N.E. 500th Road, Warrensburg, MO 64093