Complete Strangers Come Together To Create 'Pop-up Christmas' for Age 4 Boy with Brain Tumor


If you’re like me, you are a Christmas decoration traditionalist. Did I just make up that term? Absolutely. Does it still work? You betcha.

I am of the impression that Christmas decorations shouldn’t go up until after Thanksgiving. Now that doesn’t mean I’m a Grinch nor will I rain on anyone’s tinsel covered parade (unless you’re my roommate), but it does mean that I don’t participate in holiday festivities until the holiday full of turkey and thanks is over.

But one small town south of Tucson, Arizona had a pretty good reason to decorate early and I think even Christmas decoration traditionalists like me can agree.

Little 4-year-old Marcus “Junior” Cook has been battling an aggressive brain tumor since 2017. Doctors recently told Junior’s parents that there wasn’t much more that could be done to help him.

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“Junior is … always happy. He’s got this laugh,” his grandmother, Annis Cook, said. “Every day has been a celebration of life.”

The community of Sahuarita were absolutely heartbroken over the news.

Blaire Mathias, a mother from the community, told KOLD 13, “This is a little boy. We all have kids. Being in that situation — you know, what can we do to help?”

While Junior went on a special outing with his family to see the Grinch, complete strangers rallied together to pull off a magical Christmas surprise.

Mathias gathered as many people as she could to deck little Junior’s home in the most extravagant Christmas decor they could manage.

She said, “Maybe I watch too many Hallmark movies, I don’t know. I just thought — let’s make this town — if anyone can do it our town can.”

Amanda Kushman has never met Junior but knows how important it is to help create good days for those battling cancer like her dad once did.

“Sometimes they have good days, sometimes have bad days,” she said, expressing her desire to make this particular day a good one for Junior.

Even Rural Metro and Green Valley firefighters showed up to help hang lights.

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Mathias said she just really wanted to create a special memory for Junior. “That he may not get to celebrate Christmas is just heart-wrenching,” she said. “It hurts my mom heart.”

When Junior returned home, his expression captured just how magical the day had turned out to be.

His grandmother said the act of kindness meant the world to Junior and the rest of the family.

For Mathias, watching Junior’s face and taking in the incredible display of community was a moment she’ll never forget.

“To just step away from that and have a little moment – that’s worth it,” she said.

This is such a beautiful example of how much power a community can have when they rally around someone in need. You can see it in little Junior’s eyes.

If you would like to help support the family during the difficult time you can donate here.

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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