Just a few short months ago cancer was beginning to take its toll on 7-year-old Caiden Miller of Wyandotte.
The energetic boy lost some of his pep, but after completing six rounds of chemotherapy, it’s hard to tell he was ever sick.
SLIDESHOW: Photos from Caiden's trip to Ford Field
That was especially true Friday afternoon when he and his family had the opportunity to get up close and personal with monster trucks that were in town for the Monster Jam event at Ford Field the following day.
Caiden got a preview of the Monster Jam excitement by getting invited to meet Tom Meents, the most successful competitor of the Monster Jam World Finals era, and the sports only 11-time world champion.
The event was made possible through a collaboration between Lady Jane’s Wicked Awesome Wishes and Feld Motor Sports.
“We are thrilled that our foundation and the generosity of Feld Motor Sports are able to make such a special wish come true for Caiden, who has had to endure so much at such a young age,” said Chad Johnson, founder and co-chair of the foundation. “He’s a fighter with a story that has inspired us all.”
Caiden was diagnosed last July with non-Hodgkins Burkitt Lymphoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer.
Within hours of his diagnosis, Caiden was rushed into surgery and immediately started a long battle for his life.
But the good news, according to family members, is the cancer was detected early enough and he responded to the treatment so well that today the prognosis looks good.
While still too early to know for certain, his condition will continue to be monitored for the next several months to ensure cancer does not return.
The original plan was for Caiden to see Grave Digger, considered by most fans of the sport to be the most popular of the monster trucks.
But according to Tom Wegehaupt, a spokesman with Feld Entertainment, weather-related issues delayed the truck’s arrival.
However, that wasn’t an issue for Caiden, who was thrilled to meet Meents, who drives the Maximum Destruction, or “Max-D” monster truck.
Meents surprised everyone at the meet-and-greet when he lifted the boy into the truck with the gigantic wheels and put him in the driver’s seat, which resulted in a grin on the boy’s face that extended from ear to ear.
Even his mothers, Crystal Miller and Heather McBride, said they had no idea their son would get an opportunity to get inside the truck.
Meents allowed the boy to turn the truck’s wheels, which resulted in a loud sound that startled onlookers.
“I did that!,” he shouted down to his friends and family, which included his 8-year-old sister, Riley, also a big fan of monster trucks.
Caiden’s pronouncement was followed by a warning from Meents for people to step back because the boy appeared ready to drive.
While the boy didn’t actually operate the monster truck, he seemed to relish the experience of seeing one so close and talking to its driver. He also wasn’t shy behind the camera, as TV crews found an excited and talkative interviewee.
Among the onlookers was Tony Thomson, a good friend of Meents who lives in Burlington, Iowa. He made the trip to Detroit to learn what his friend goes through, adding that he’s sore from helping Meents move the huge wheels that have to be taken off each time the truck is placed in a trailer for transport.
Meents, a native of Paxton, Illinois, exudes a small-town charm that makes him popular with his fans.
“I call it the Tom Meents factor,” Thomson said. “No matter who you’re there to see, you will walk away liking him. He understands the concept of entertaining people.”
Contact Staff Writer Jim Kasuba at 734-246-0881 or email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook and @JKasuba on Twitter