Whether it's taking down his little brother or putting a move on his older sisters, Gage Driver just loves to wrestle. In just three years the 7-year-old has already compiled 27 trophies and wrestled at state.
"He's excited for wresting season this year and we're hoping for the best that he's feeling strong enough that he can wrestle for the Dragons another year,” Gage’s mom, Trina Driver, said.
That's because Gage has been using all his strength battling a rare form of brain cancer.
"As a mom and a nurse you are suppose to be able to fix it and there is nothing I can do other than pray,” Trina said.
SLIDESHOW: Pictures of Gage
And those prayers are coming throughout the Litchfield, Minn. community.
"It's overwhelming and it warms my heart to know our little boy has touched so many people's lives,” Trina said.
They even designed t-shirts: on the front, “Gage Strength,” and on the back, "You never know how strong you are until you are until your only option is to be strong."
Dr. Anne Bendel of Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota says diffuse pontine glioma affects just 300 children a year. It's one of the most difficult cancers to treat and least likely to be cured, with just a five-percent survival rate.
"It's in an area of the brain that cannot be surgically removed, because if you surgically remove it the child would die,” Dr. Bendel said.
The only treatment is radiation, which Gage goes through daily.
"God's about all I have to hold onto and just know that he has a plan,” Trina said.
A month after being diagnosed, Gage is back to his old self, obsessed with building Legos. But while radiation helps initially, the tumor usually re-grows. Extracting a tissue sample to study the cancer is difficult without causing neurological damage, so unfortunately there's been no progress on treatment for 20 years.
"You hear about all the money going for breast cancer research and all of that and there's these little kids without a chance,” Trina said.
Now Trina Driver is making it her mission, asking the public to donate to brain cancer research.
"If we could get more knowledge about tumor tissue we might be able to target our treatments better,” Dr. Bendel said.
"Even if our boy can't be saved hopefully other parents don't have to go through this,” Trina said. “We have to get the word out there needs to be research there has to be something because too many little kids are getting their lives cut short."
GAGE DRIVER FUND
Center National Bank
301 N. Ramsey Avenue
Litchfield, MN 55355
Benefit Saturday, Nov. 12
4 p.m. Taco and baked potato bar
9 p.m. Blurred Vision plays