In January of 2022 at the age of 16 months. Bennett Tate was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer that was growing behind his right eye. Before he was diagnosed, Bennett’s parents, Jessica and Blake noticed his right eye bulging and took him to the local ED in Orlando, Florida where they found a mass in his right orbit. Doctors biopsied the mass which led to his diagnosis, but due to the tumor’s rapid growth, his eye had become severely damaged and infected which led to his eye being removed.
Two weeks after his diagnosis, Jessica felt she needed to get a second opinion from a doctor who specializes in this type of cancer. 48 hours after deciding that Cincinnati Children’s was where Bennett needed to be seen, Jessica, Blake, and Bennett packed the car and drove 745 miles to Cincinnati. Upon arriving to CCHMC and meeting with the medical team, Jessica and Blake knew this is where Bennett needed to be.
Jessica, Bennett, and brother Jameson (age 4) lived at the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Cincinnati for 154 days. During this time, dad Blake had to continue to work in Florida to ensure that Bennett had a house to come home to after he received treatment.
While in Cincinnati, Bennett’s social worker recommended an amazing foundation that would give the Messer Family the opportunity to step outside of the hospital world and have fun for a change! This is how they became a part of the Dragonfly Family. As a part of the Dragonfly family, we were able to take Bennett & Jameson to fun and exciting events and give them the opportunity to feel “normal” again. We attended several Cincinnati Reds games as well as Trolls Live and both boys had so much fun! Dragonfly even delivered a GIANT bag of toys to us to keep Bennett busy & distracted while in the hospital.
A very special memory we will always have, is Dragonfly giving us tickets to a Reds game and having front row seats behind home plate. We had the opportunity to meet Joey Votto and get a picture with him, and the boys were given Reds Swag bags. It was truly a special day that our family will remember forever. We are now Reds fans for life and we have the Dragonfly Foundation to thank for that!
Dragonfly is truly a special foundation and made us feel like Cincinnati was home. We will forever be grateful for them, even when we are now 744 miles away. Thank you Dragonfly Foundation! We love you!