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BUCKET LIST: Child with terminal cancer wishes for his parents to marry

Published: May. 25, 2022 at 7:07 PM EDT|Updated: May. 25, 2022 at 9:54 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A Locust Grove couple held a wedding to remember, not because of who they are but why they did it.

The parents are tying the knot, checking off their little boy’s bucket list, after his terminal cancer diagnosis.

“You got to get through the scary stuff to see the beautiful, that is Kalani,” his grandma, Dorie Smith described of her ‘wise’ grandson.

Both inside and out of the home, the Smith family says they’re focused on the beauty in their brokenness Wednesday, for little Kalani.

Relatives from as far as Hawaii, like Grandma Laura Tejedor, came for the 12-year-old they’ve spent more time learning from rather than teaching.

“He taught me complete, unconditional love,” sobbed Tejedor.

Kalani has B-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with c-MYC arrangement. He was diagnosed in July 2020.

But after celebrating Kalani’s clean cancer scans on April 29, both sets of grandparents thought the worse was behind them. Now, it’s back in front for everyone. Days ago, doctors said it was terminal and too advanced.

Grandma Smith recalled what her grandson said in response.

“‘I’m not afraid for me,’” she cried. “‘I’m afraid for my mom and dad when I die because it’s a ripple effect.’”

His mom, Josie Smith, told CBS46 she is afraid and angry after treatments did not work.

“We can’t make the medicine work as much as we want to as his parents.” She paused, “it’s hard”

At the time of her interview with CBS46, Smith sat in her son’s hospital room. As the machines beeped, she added she and Kalani’s dad felt helpless, until his bucket list. It was some way to help.

The mom published the fundraiser on GoFundMe, where more than $40,000 has been donated. The middle schooler loves marine biology so he hoped to travel to animal theme parks like Sea World.

Despite his health potentially holding him back from travel, he doesn’t have to go very far for his top wish - seeing mom and dad marry.

It’s something he’s been waiting for his whole life.

The parents had Kalani while they were seniors in high school.

“He always says we grew up together,” Smith laughed. Adding, time and more children kept delaying the thoughts of any nuptials.

Now 15 years and four kids later, it’s a marriage to remember.

“We just pray that the prayers are heard and they can give him the strength he needs and give us the strength to make him as comfortable as possible.”