A welcome home to remember as 600 people show up for #RileyStrong

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 6:38 PM CDT
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HOWARD, Wis. (WBAY) - After months away from home receiving cancer treatments, a 16-year-old Bay Port High School Junior is welcomed home by 600 people outside his home in Howard.

Riley Lestrud was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in September of 2018 and then relapsed in February of 2020.

After months in Milwaukee and St. Louis for treatment, he returned home to family and friends Monday, complete with a full police and firetruck escort.

Family and friends lined the street with signs and balloons while chanting #RileyStrong.

“We are just all here to support him,” said Tucker Zenk, Riley’s friend.

“I was in one of the engines and when we came over the hill, I mean tears started coming to my eyes to see the amount of support that was here for Riley,” said Shane Lestrud, Riley’s dad. “So he could see the lives that he touches. He’s got a lot of support and people who care about him.”

“For me, I wanted him to get a glimpse of how much he is loved,” said JoDee Lestrud, Riley’s mom.

Riley’s brother was one of the first to give him a big hug, even the family pets couldn’t hold back their excitement for the aspiring veterinarian who continues to fight like so many others.

“Forty-three children every day in America get diagnosed with cancer, yet 4 percent of all funding from the National Cancer Institute goes to all childhood cancers,” said Riley’s mom. “We need to do better for our children. We need more funding for research to find cures.”

While Riley continues to fight, his mom says others should join the fight too.

“You can help by contacting your government officials and stressing the importance of more funding for our children or donating to local organizations such as ‘Families of Children with Cancer’ or the Angel Fund,” said Riley’s mom. “God’s in the business of making miracles, so let’s keep praying for a miracle.”

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