A Barrow Co. teen battling cancer is inspiring others to lend a helping hat.
"Some of the hats I think are really goofy, and I like those hats," Kolebi Baxter said. "Some of them I think are really cool."
In fact, hats have taken on a whole new meaning for the 14-year-old.
"The funnier the better this kid has a sense of humor," Taryn Baxter, Kolebi's mom, tells 11Alive.
The teen's humor has been put to the test lately after doctors discovered a rare malignant tumor on his spine.
"It literally changed everything," Taryn said of the news. Last October, Kolebi was a normal 8th grader. Then, one Friday he began to stumble and fall for no reason. By the next day, he couldn't walk, his parents said, who took him to the emergency room. An MRI revealed the diagnosis and call for emergency surgery.
"He was literally given a ten percent chance to walk again," Taryn said. "And it turned into, he's amazing everybody."
The teen is undergoing an additional surgery to remove the tumor, which grew back within 41 days
"He was zooming through rehab, he’s so strong, he’s so confident," his mom said of his ability to roll with the difficult recovery and rehab.
But it was radiation therapy that delivered the biggest blow.
"His hair was his identity, long hair, we'd have to bribe him and force him to get haircuts," Taryn said. "It took four days and almost all of it fell out."
Desperate to lift her son's spirits, Taryn turned to Facebook with a simple request.
The social media call turning into more than one hundred hats for Kolebi, some from strangers inspired by the teen's strength. With each delivery, comes a story, a smile, a laugh.
Kolebi now surrounded by hats at Ronald McDonald House Atlanta, the charity that has provided a home away from home for the Baxter's during treatment. The packages just keep coming, packing hope with every new hat.
"I'm just so proud of him. This little movement is awesome," Taryn said.
Those interested in contributing hats for Kolebi can mail packages to Ronald McDonald House Charities Atlanta. Attn: Kolebi Baxter 5420 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd, Atlanta, GA 30342
The following GoFundMe is also affiliated with the Baxter family: https://www.gofundme.com/pass-the-hat-for-kolebi
The mission of Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities is to nurture the health and well-being of children and families. By serving more families and enhancing services, the Ronald McDonald House will strive to be one of the children’s charities of choice in metro Atlanta.