Local elementary school turns to internet to make student battling cancer "happy"

In December of 2012, we introduced you to Jaden Goninen. He was battling stage four kidney cancer at nine years old.

Later that year he went into remission, but six months after the good news, Jaden's family learned his cancer had come back.

For two weeks now, Jaden has been at the American Family Children's Hospital undergoing a stem cell transplant to help him fight his second battle with stage four kidney cancer.

"By far this has been the roughest week for Jaden as we knew it would be. Though his spirits are usually pretty high, this week has been kind of rough for him," said Sundee Syse Runden, Jaden's mom.

All of the teachers and students at Jaden Goninen's school, Pecatonica Elementary, knew he'd be having a tough week. They wanted to send him a little happiness, so they decided to make Jaden a music video to the Pharrell song, "Happy."

"A couple staff members took some time and shot different clips trying to make sure every student and staff member was involved in the video, and by Thursday night, it was out to Jaden and his family," said Sarah Straka, Pecatonica Elementary principal. The song they chose was no mistake.

"Before his transplant, he showed me this song, the happy song, and told me he wanted to listen to this song when he was receiving his stem cells," said Runden.

Runden posted the song on Jaden's Caring Bridge page the night he had the transplant, and Pecatonica took notice.

"On the content within the Caring Bridge site, it's time for us to send him a little happiness -- send him a smile because he is going through a tough time," said Straka about why the school made the video.

"I think when anyone you care about is going through a hard time in their life you want to make some kind of impact and positive difference in their life -- you want to be able to do something for them," Straka added.

The song and its message meant a lot to Jaden and his family

"Special. I think it's special to him and it's special to all of us," said Todd Goninen, Jaden's dad.

When asked what Jaden wanted to say to the teacher and students who made the video, he said, "Thank you."

It was the reaction his friends at Pecatonica had hoped for.

"It certainly brought a smile to his face," said Runden.


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