‘He was the one teaching us’
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‘He was the one teaching us’

By Fancy Robbins

Being brave isn’t just going downstairs at night when it’s dark and scary. It’s not just speaking in front of a crowd or talking to your crush.

Bravery is being the eight-year-old boy spending weeks in and out of hospitals.

Brave is the word used to describe William Flannery, who passed Feb. 20 after a daring battle with brain cancer.

Will himself was so strong and made all these hard things look so easy when we knew it wasn’t,” said junior Chase Flannery, Will’s brother.

Will Fire
Will holds up a comic made of himself, Will Fire. (Photo Provided)

At the end of 2022, Will started having awful headaches, trouble seeing, and his eyes became sensitive to light. 

This was when his parents, Ryan and Ashley Flannery, decided to take him to the eye doctor. Will’s optic nerves that ran from his brain to his eyes were experiencing distress, so he needed to get an MRI at Riley’s Hospital for Children.

At Riley in the beginning of 2023, doctors found a brain tumor the size of a baseball on the left side of his brain. They needed to remove it immediately after the discovery.

Less than 24 hours before they found the tumor, Will had been at basketball practice like normal.

“It was a sudden change in everything,” his father said. “Life is truly unpredictable.”

His three brothers, Chase, 16, Hunter, 14, and Evan, 10, along with their parents found fortitude within their religion, Christianity, during this hard time.

flanney family
The Flannery Family. (from left) Hunter, Chase, Ryan, Will, Ashley, Evan. (Photo Provided)

The family spent time praying throughout the year. Both Ryan and Chase agree that the prayer from them and everyone else gave them strength and was truly felt.

Faith (gave us motivation) that we were not intended to live in this world with a spirit of fear,” Ryan said.

Joshua 1:9 is a Biblical verse that stands out to Chase and has special meaning to him.

 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 This is a lesson the Flannery family learned – instead of letting yourself feel down, stay hopeful and strong.

“There is no point in just sitting around and feeling bad for someone else or yourself so you might as well have that bit of hope because you never know what will happen,” Chase said. “Be appreciative. You are blessed to even be on this planet.”

Will didn’t spend his time sitting around, unless he didn’t feel well. He loved getting up and doing everything he could.

The Flannery family spent a lot of time with doctors and in hospitals during 2023. William had an appointment every Tuesday, sometimes more than once a week, but occasionally would have to spend multiple days in the hospital. His mother rarely left his side.

“I think her strength is also even on par with Will,” Chase said.

William and Ashley
Will and his mother Ashley in the hospital. (Photo Provided)

He spent his time with his family at the hospital in Riley’s Child Life Zone, where you can find about any game or activity you can think of, but when he wasn’t feeling the best they watched Top Gun: Maverick or one of the Cars movies. Will and Chase also enjoyed doing art together.

Although he loved those activities, his love for Legos was even bigger. 

My parents would always buy him whatever set and I would build them, so seeing that giant smile and happy yell is probably my favorite thing ever,” Chase said.

When Chase found out about Will’s diagnosis he wasn’t sure how to feel, but he started building Legos to cope with it. 

The Flannery family invited people to bring in Lego sets to his funeral to donate to Riley’s Children Foundation. 

Chase said the huge amount of Legos people brought in surprised even the administrators at Riley.

 The Delta High School baseball team, of which Chase is a member, plans to put a Lego brick sticker on their helmets to honor Will.

Will also liked baseball, and one of Chase’s favorite memories with William is playing baseball on the beach together.

Chase and Will
Chase and Will pose for a picture with the Indianapolis Indians mascot. (Photo Provided)

Will’s fight taught all members of his family lessons.

“As a young parent we take for granted, and assume our kids are part of our story,” his father said. “One of the many things I realized during this time was that he was the one teaching us, and his story was way better than ours.”

Chase not only matured as a person, but he learned how to appreciate his family more. And he learned that time is valuable.

Chase and Will
Will and Chase wearing costumes together. (Photo Provided)

“It changed how I viewed life,” Chase said. “I was obviously aware of death, but now I’ve really learned to cherish all the little things that happen and what a privilege it is to just live in general.”

 

March 18, 2024

About Author

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fancyrobbins Fancy Robbins is a junior taking her third year of journalism at Delta High School. Some of her hobbies include playing softball, listening to music, and hanging out with friends.


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