Third-grader Ethen Richardson gets wish of seeing NYC, will appear on national TV

Ethen Richardson and his mother, Brandy Richardson, make cardboard cutouts in Ethen's playroom at their home in Mount Pleasant last week. Ethen and his family are in New York City for New Year's Eve. Buy this photo

Just before the ball drops tonight, a local 8-year-old fighting brain cancer will step into Times Square to appear live on national TV while living his dream of visiting the Big Apple.

If you go

WHAT: 2014 Ethen Richardson NEGU Fun Run

WHEN: Saturday 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

WHERE: Charles Pinckney Elementary in Mount Pleasant's Park West neighborhood where Ethen is a third-grader.

COST: Registration is $10 in advance, $15 on race day to help pay Ethen's medical bills.

MORE INFO: To register, go to signupgenius.com. For more about Ethen, go to ethenrichardson.com.

Ethen Richardson and his family will join hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Bill Hemmer on Fox News for its live New Year's Eve coverage. The Mount Pleasant residents will appear at 10 p.m.

Ethen, a smiley third-grader with sky-blue eyes and moppy brown hair, was diagnosed in July with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. The life-threatening cancer grows in the middle brainstem and cannot be removed surgically.

But after his diagnosis, Ethen's parents searched for hope, for any medical possibilities. They headed to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis this fall for an eight-week clinical trial of radiation and chemotherapy.

That's where Brandy and Todd Richardson met people from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children facing life-threatening medical conditions.

Ethen's wish? To visit the Big Apple.

As in, "I love you bigger than New York City." That's what he sometimes tell his mom and dad.

However, Ethen became overwhelmed with nausea and vomiting, symptoms that terrified his parents and made him miserable. Doctors at St. Jude removed him from chemotherapy early.

He finished radiation and returned to his Park West home in late September.

As the vomiting improved, his parents heard from Make-A-Wish South Carolina representatives who had news: They would make Ethen's Big Apple dream come true for the holidays.

He and his family - including siblings Eli, Emi-Sue and Evan - flew to New York City on Sunday. Ethen and his crew spent Monday touring Rockefeller Center, notably the Lego store.

Ethen didn't want to leave. His little sister, Emi-Sue, left thrilled with a new pink Lego watch.

Then the family headed off for a carriage ride through Central Park (little brother Evan's favorite) before eating their first slices of New York pizza - all while being filmed by a Fox News crew.

Brandy, a Georgia native, laughed at having to learn how to pack four kids and two adults in enough layers to survive New York's frosty temperatures.

Mostly, everyone was thankful Ethen's appetite had revived enough that he was hungry for pizza and energetic enough to enjoy so much activity.

Both of his parents credit a prayer army amassed around Charleston and beyond who have prayed for Ethen and kept the family's Christian faith strong.

Today, they are off to Times Square, where the Richardsons will appear on live national TV.

Brandy admits to some serious nerves. She's camera shy but is trying to stay busy and not think about how many viewers will be watching.

"It's a little overwhelming," Brandy says. "It's been such an adventure."

For more about Make-A-Wish South Carolina, go to sc.wish.org.

Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563, follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes or subscribe to her at facebook.com/jennifer.b.hawes.

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