Austin and Julie Locke from Washington Illinois, newly married and thrilled to be expecting, became the proud parents of a healthy baby boy, Dax Ryan Locke, born on June 26, 2007. At six months old, Dax began getting colds and ear infections constantly. His parents, diligent in their struggle to help Dax regain his health took him repeatedly to the pediatrician who assured them it was a virus and he would be fine. On Dax's first birthday, with two ear infections and both eyes infected, he was admitted to the hospital the day after his first birthday. The doctors thought he was just dehydrated from the sickness and would perk up after getting some fluids. Three hospitals later the Locke family landed in Memphis, Tennessee at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital diagnosed with AML M7 leukemia. Although shocked, grief stricken, and exhausted from the emotional toll the last six months had taken, adrenaline kicked in and Julie and Austin from that second began their battle to do all they could for their baby son, Dax.
AML M7 leukemia is common in men over 65; Dax was only 15 months old when he was diagnosed. Dax began rounds of chemotherapy but it was not working; his body was so full of cancer by the time he was diagnosed the treatments could not stop the growth of the cancer. St. Jude and the wonderful staff of doctors and nurses never gave up on Dax. After the chemotherapy treatments failed and with no other options to try, Dax was enrolled in an experimental protocol where he would undergo a stem cell transplant. If Dax had not been taken to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital his story would have ended here. Given this new hope, Dax received his first transplant from his mother, Julie's stem cells. The cancer returned in Dax's small body even harder. Again, St. Jude offered another transplant and this time his dad, Austin's stem cells were used. Unfortunately Dax's little body just couldn't beat the disease and Julie and Austin returned home in mid October with Dax to “Cherish Every Moment” with him. The doctors thought he probably would not live through Christmas. Julie and Austin will forever remember the time and effort St. Jude put into saving Dax's life and most importantly for the gift of extra time they were able to spend with their precious son.
At home and with Dax, Julie and Austin decided to celebrate one last Christmas with Dax. Dax especially loved the Christmas lights on the tree and on the house and soon the neighborhood began asking why they had Christmas lights up before Halloween? As the story spread, within days the neighborhood and soon the town of Washington was lit for Dax. His story was a headline on CNN and Dax's story captured the hearts of literally thousands of people. Before they knew it, Christmas lights had actually gone up all around the world for Dax. Dax did live to see Christmas day. He passed away December 30th, 2009.
Despite their sadness, Julie and Austin knew that Dax's story, which had touched so many people, could be used to bring awareness to childhood cancer and the work of St. Jude and started a foundation called “Cherish Every Moment” the Dax Locke Foundation. The foundation's purpose is to raise $1.8 million dollars to run St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for one day in honor of Dax! They began chipping away at this goal by running fundraisers and spreading the word. Singer and songwriter, Matthew West reached out to help after hearing Dax's story. He wrote a song called One Last Christmas and the song went viral! Matthew donated all the money he made from the song to to the Dax Locke foundation! A producer heard the song, decided it would make a charming Christmas movie (One Last Christmas) telling how the neighborhood came together for Dax and put up their Christmas lights and filming began. The movie was aired December 4th, 2011 on GMC network and broke every record the network had ever set. Dax's story has moved the world. To this date over $580,000 has been raised to help Austin and Julie Locke meet their goal for their sweet boy, Dax.