Christmas Wish Comes True for Young Cancer Survivor

By Megan Trent

December 17, 2010 Updated Dec 17, 2010 at 7:38 PM EDT

COLDWATER, OH (Indiana's NewsCenter) - A Christmas wish come true. In the small town of Coldwater, Ohio lives a third grade boy named Eric Gruss who is battling cancer. His story has touched so many hearts that today a community came together to turn his holiday dreams into reality.

"He was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor in '07," says Eric's mother, Kathy Gruss. "They removed the left kidney with the tumor. From that main surgery he had complications with scar tissue build up. So in '08 they had to go in and do surgery for scar tissue because he had an intestinal blockage. And then the scar tissue reoccurred again in November where it caused another intestinal blockage. Then they had to go in and take care of that, and from that he is back up and running normal again."

"He's doing good," his father, Mike Gruss, adds. "He's got a good attitude."

Barb Richards is Program Director for Fort Wayne radio station, MAJIC 95.1. She says she's never had a bad Christmas, because through her work she is able to meet people like Eric. "Majic 95 does the Majic Christmas Wish Program, and this is our 25th year."

It was Eric's teacher, Tracy Schmitz, who helped put the special surprise together. "I had a student and a parent who contacted me to see if they could do this and we worked together on it, and they sent it in."

"We were really just struck by the fact that the whole classroom, all the third graders, wrote this wish together about a fellow third grader," says Richards. "There are great lessons to learn there about giving back and reaching out to other people."

Schmitz says all her students have grown from this experience. "They've been asking, 'How's Eric? How's Eric?' and they've been thinking about him and really caring about him."

"We contacted the big guy up north, Santa, and he had one opening left for 9:00 this morning, and we drove over to Coldwater, Ohio and surprised Eric and his classroom with everything Eric had written down on his Christmas list," beams Richards.

Young Eric told us all the goodies Santa brought Friday. "A (Nintendo) D.S., a Lego set, a Webkin, and a D.S. game."

"We made sure that Santa didn't forget Mom and Dad and got them a gas card for their many trips to and from the hospital," adds Richards.

Mike Gruss says Friday was a total shock to his family. They only found out about the surprise Thursday. "I thank the community, thank the teachers, and the school for all their help and support." He says he is also grateful to MAJIC 95.1 for their involvement.

"He's had a rough time, and he has been a real trooper through the whole thing," says Schmitz. "He really deserves this."

Everyone here at Indiana's NewsCenter wishes Eric and the rest of the Gruss family a very happy holiday season.

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