Lego ‘build’ aims to cheer ill boy

Massive project to be unveiled after his latest surgery

3/11/2014
BY MARLENE HARRIS-TAYLOR
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Gavin Boggs
Gavin Boggs

Ten-year-old Gavin Boggs has been in a form of quarantine in his family’s Rossford home for several months.

He has Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Months of aggressive chemotherapy treatment has left his resistance to germs so low, he can’t go to school, play with friends, or see anyone other than his mom, dad, and little brother, Zachary.

PHOTO GALLERY: Gavin's battle

Like most kids his age, Gavin enjoys playing with his brother, playing video games online, and using Face Time to talk with friends, but his true diversion from the daily isolation is when he escapes into the basement and gets lost in his Lego world.

“I like building them. I like making my own creations. I made this really cool, really crazy car with three wheels and a golden engine and in the front it has a skull with fire coming out of the eyes,” he said.

Now Gavin’s family hopes to use the colorful, interlocking plastic blocks to give him a special birthday surprise. Gavin is scheduled to have an outpatient procedure on Thursday, and his aunt, Kristi Young, said the prospect of going to the hospital on his 11th birthday really has him down.

Ms. Young is organizing a massive build, using the toy building blocks and the empty boxes to create a Lego wonderland at Gavin’s school. Ms. Young is asking the community to bring individual Lego blocks or kits to Indian Hills Elementary, 401 Glenwood Rd. in Rossford, from 5 to 7 p.m. today (weather permitting) or 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday.

Gavin Boggs, 11, displays the Lego village he crafted in the basement of his family’s home in Rossford. Gavin was diagnosed last year with a rare form of bone cancer called localized Ewing’s sarcoma.
Gavin Boggs, 11, displays the Lego village he crafted in the basement of his family’s home in Rossford. Gavin was diagnosed last year with a rare form of bone cancer called localized Ewing’s sarcoma.

“My goal was 10,000 individual Legos. Originally, my thought was we are either going to Face Time him or take a picture of his Legos and show him on Thursday night after he’s done with his surgery and say, ‘This is your surprise. All these people came together to bring you these Legos,’ ” Ms. Young said.

The Legos would then be delivered to Gavin’s home and any duplicate sets will be donated to ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital, she said.

Gavin’s parents, Ken and Jenny Boggs, said the boy’s white-blood-cell count has been up this week, so they hope it might be safe to take him to the display — but his doctors will make that decision.

Gavin’s disease was diagnosed in May, found in his upper-arm bone, the humerus. Mr. Boggs, a self-employed video producer, said his son’s surgeon had told the family only 400 children are diagnosed with this type of bone cancer each year in the United States.

“We came right out and told him, ‘You have cancer, and you are going to get really sick before you get better.’ He has been nothing but amazing this whole time,” said Mrs. Boggs, a sonographer at ProMedica Toledo Hospital.

Mr. Boggs said Gavin is very tough and has soldiered through months of treatment, followed by a ground-breaking surgery performed at Ohio State University’s James Cancer Center.

His humerus was replaced by another human bone donated from a bone bank. He was on the operating table for five hours in September.

Gavin’s illness has served as case study for Dr. Joel Mayerson, an orthopedic oncology surgeon and one of just a few doctors in Ohio experienced with this form of cancer. He has presented information about Gavin’s case to other doctors at the Mayo Clinic, Mr. Boggs said. Dr. Mayerson could not be reached for comment.

Gavin Boggs, right, jokes with his brother, Zachary, as they play a game on their iPads together at their home in Rossford.
Gavin Boggs, right, jokes with his brother, Zachary, as they play a game on their iPads together at their home in Rossford.

Despite the original surgery’s success, Gavin has experienced a recent setback. The replacement bone in his shoulder fractured. He is to have another operation in June to reset the top half of his arm with a metal prosthetic.

That means he will have to miss a trip granted to him by the Make-A-Wish foundation to travel to Lego’s world headquarters in Denmark.

The family has established the “For the Benefit of Gavin Boggs” fund at Fifth Third Bank for help with his medical expenses.

Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor Marlene Harris-Taylor at: mtaylor@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.