Helen Keller said, What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.
Even though deeply loved, Collins Dixon is no longer with us. He remains a part of our community through Bend Your Knees Inc., a nonprofit started in his honor.
Through Bend Your Knees, Collins’ parents, Bob and Robin Dixon, are dedicated to raising pediatric brain tumor awareness and financially supporting families with a child who has a brain tumor. They also work with other organizations, such as the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. Collins’ shout of encouragement to “Bend your knees!” — which he would yell to his big brothers when they took foul shots — has echoed through Cherokee County beyond the basketball court.
It began when Collins received a harmless hit on the head during basketball practice in February 2011. After the bump to the head, he experienced flu-like symptoms that wouldn’t go away. Doctors ordered a CT scan that revealed a rare tumor in the center of his brain. In the 10 months battling this tumor, he lived life to the fullest. He continued playing sports, spoke about his faith and brain tumor awareness at a community event called Fields of Faith, and even ran a 5K. He never lost his joy, no matter what he went through during his treatment. He finished strong on Jan. 14, 2012.
About Collins, Chris Page said, “Typical sixth grade boy who loved sports, his family and his friends. That’s how I assessed Collins when he entered my youth group. But, as is true of any person, when life gets real, gets hard, what’s really inside us comes out. After being blindsided by the uncertainty of living with a brain tumor, what was inside him indeed came out. It came out bright, clear and strong.
“First, and never wavering, came out faith. But, were Collins here among us, he would challenge us all to not be typical. He would tell us to live for God and others, to let that kind of living become the new normal, the new typical.”
There’s nothing typical about his football teammates (who are now seniors). They wanted Collins represented by his parents and older brother on the Cherokee High School field last fall on Senior Night.
This young man’s legacy of giving back lives on through the foundation. Denise Whitfield shared how Bend Your Knees impacted her family’s life when her son, Joshua, was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme. “There is no way to describe just what the support has meant to Joshua and our family through the years since his diagnosis,” Denise said. “The Dixon family and Bend Your Knees have gone over and beyond in supporting us in many ways. Just to name one, they treated us to a Braves game. Our prayer is to one day be able to help others in similar ways.”
Last year, the foundation helped the families of 14 children with this difficult diagnosis, in Cherokee County and throughout the Southeast.
Bend Your Knees has fun annual community events like sporting clay shoots, golf tournaments and 5Ks. The next one, and the most popular, is the Collins Dixon Bend Your Knees Run (5K and One Mile). The 5K for this year lands on Collins’ 18th birthday, July 22, 2017 (register via the website).
If you are a family in need or know of one, are looking to volunteer, or can contribute financially call 678-922-1560 or 877-389-1560.
By Susan Schulz, contributing writer