What started as a fever, in late December became every parent’s worst nightmare. Four-year-old Tryson McGrath suffered nine fevers between Dec. 8 and Dec. 31. Initially, they were diagnosed as a “slow-moving virus” and he was sent home.
However, during his third trip to the emergency room at IWK Health Centre in Halifax, N.S., his mother Lindsay requested bloodwork be done. Those tests revealed Tryson’s while blood cell count was critically low. He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia on New Year’s Eve.
“We sat in shock in tears, as any parent would be devastated to hear words of that kind,” Tryson’s father Troy McGrath recalled.
As the family braced itself for Tryson’s battle, including chemotherapy treatments, Troy’s sister Kim Gregory launched the Team Tryson Facebook page.
Tryson loves trucks and equipment, and his family felt incoming pictures of trucks from around the world would brighten his days in treatment. The group exploded to 2,500 members in the first 10 days and has since grown to more than 6,400 people who share with Tryson pictures of their rigs and their lives on the road.
“It started with garbage trucks, dump trucks and construction equipment,” Troy told Today’s Trucking, of his son’s love of trucks. “Then one day last summer, we were on the sidewalk in our hometown of Annapolis Royal and I quickly got down and showed him what to do to get the truck driver to blow his horns. He loved it and it was his introduction to big rig trucks.”
Tryson was hooked. As he has undergone treatments, Tryson has received hundreds of photos and messages of encouragement from those in the trucking industry.
“We were very surprised how quickly the trucking community came together, and we have learned a lot about their way of life through Team Tryson,” Troy said.
Pictures that stood out for Tryson included an army tank on a flatdeck. He’s a big fan of blue trucks, and of course loves seeing them lit up with chicken lights.
“We feel it has helped him a lot, because it keeps his mind thinking about trucks and all the cool things there is to see,” Troy said. “I’m sure it helps take his mind off home as well.”
Tryson has captured the hearts of members of the Team Tryson Facebook page, and gifts have begun arriving at the hospital for him.
“We get a lot of cards, activity books, coloring books, toy trucks and model trucks,” Troy said, noting some have been custom-built by hand.
Mike Zelek, director of human resources with Wellington Motor Freight, heard about Tryson’s journey and arranged a job interview by video call. Tryson was hired on as a Future Truck Driver – with all the paperwork to prove it.
“We posted an ad on Indeed for a Future Truck Driver and posted it on the Team Tryson Facebook page,” Zelek told Today’s Trucking. “We set up a Zoom call with Tryson, his father Troy, Wellington Supply Chain president Mark Lunshof and me. We chatted for about 10 minutes and showed him some of the mini trucks we have in our office. Tryson requested we send him one. Then we offered him the position of Future Truck Driver. It was kind of ironic as Mark and I were the ones fighting back tears while Tryson and his dad were grinning from ear to ear.”
Zelek sent him the truck he requested, along with some Wellington swag and his own company ID card.
“It was breathtaking and they stole his heart,” Troy said.
Tryson’s first round of treatment went well, his family says, and he is preparing for his second round of chemotherapy.
“The family can’t thank everyone enough for all the support that has been shown, from our small-town communities right across the world,” Troy said. He added the family will keep the Team Tryson group up and running so his new friends from across the world can stay updated on his wellbeing and progress in the months to come.