Utah toddler who brought light, hope to community loses battle with cancer

Posted at 1:14 PM, Oct 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-28 15:30:15-04

WEST JORDAN, Utah – The 4-year-old sick Utah boy who touched hearts across the country has passed away.

Last week, the Van Leuvens learned Ethan’s battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia was coming to an end.

Doctors said he had weeks, maybe days to live.

Ethan’s dad, Merrill, said little Ethan died Tuesday morning.

When Ethan’s family and friends found out about his prognosis, the community made sure the toddler got the most out of life.

It started with Halloween last Tuesday.

Families on the blocked dressed up for an early evening of trick or treating, cheering Ethan along as his family pushed him in a stroller.

“Ethan wanted to go door to door, so we made it happen,”  family friend Anja Peterson said.

The festivities continued with Christmas Eve last Thursday.

“He’s looked forward to Christmas since last Christmas,” Ethan’s mother, Jennifer, said.

“It’s been a choice experience. It’s been an honor,” friend Becky Papenfuss said. “We love them. We love him.”

This was the last time the Van Leuvens got to celebrate the holidays with Ethan.

In just four years, the little guy with a big heart managed to bring a bit of light and hope to a neighborhood in West Jordan.

Utah neighborhood celebrates holidays early for toddler with terminal illness