Kentucky Air Guard welcomes 9-year-old boy fighting cancer

Story by 2nd Lt. James Killen, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Nine-year-old Dawson Barr and his family visit the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing to view aircraft that will be flown in the annual Thunder Over Louisville Air Show, in Louisville, Ky., April 18, 2015. Dawson has been battling cancer his entire life and currently has an inoperable brain tumor, making him legally blind in both eyes. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Members of the Kentucky Air National Guard welcomed a 9-year-old boy with cancer to the base Saturday as aircraft from around the world prepared to perform in the Thunder Over Louisville air show.

Dawson Barr, accompanied by his sister, mother and father, toured the flight line with Chief Master Sgt. Joe Dawson, superintendent of the 123rd Operations Group here.

“Dawson had an absolute blast!” Chief Dawson said. “We visited every aircraft on the flight line, met and talked with several people along the way, and we also got to watch a C-17 Globemaster taxi out and take off.”

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Nine-year-old Dawson Barr and his family visit the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing to view aircraft that will be flown in the annual Thunder Over Louisville Air Show, in Louisville, Ky., April 18, 2015. Dawson has been battling cancer his entire life and currently has an inoperable brain tumor, making him legally blind in both eyes. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen)

Dawson toured the Operations Building, ate lunch supplied by the 123rd Security Forces Squadron, and watched several aircraft take off while observing from the 165th Airlift Squadron Heritage Room, which offers one of the best views on base.

Dawson was diagnosed with cancer at just 6 months of age. Doctors were cautious about his life expectancy, primarily because of the number of tumors he has — seven on the brain and three on the spine — and their severity.

He has defied the odds, though, and according to his mother, Aimee Barr, “He’s an amazing little kid with a magnetic personality; he’s a fighter, too.”

Dawson endured five years of chemotherapy, ending his treatments in February 2012. He currently has one inoperable tumor that severely impacts his vision, making him legally blind in both eyes. The chemotherapy and other treatments have left Dawson with a number of challenges, from hormone imbalances to osteoporosis.

Aimee says that doesn’t stop him, though.

“He’s a normal 9-year-old boy. He wants to play soccer, he wants to be a professional football player, and if that doesn’t work, he’s going to be a professional baseball player.”

Dawson made an impact on several of the people he met at the Kentucky Air Guard, with many noting how positive and upbeat he was, and how he asked so many great questions.

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Two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team perform in the Thunder Over Louisville air show April 18, 2015, in Louisville, Ky. More than 650,000 people lined the banks of the Ohio River for the show. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

“I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and spending time with Dawson, his sister, Lauren, and their parents, Aimee and Shane Barr,” Chief Dawson said. “That young man is a fighter in the true sense of the word, with the most positive attitude and the most uplifting spirit that you will ever see in a little boy.”

Dawson has a message for those who may be struggling with challenges or illness. In a calm and steady voice he said, “If you’re going through something, just keep going. Eventually something good will happen, and it will be okay.”

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