PJs for DJ: Louisville school rallies around boy with cancer with pajama party

LOUISVILLE, Ohio-- As blustery winter weather caused many school districts to cancel classes Friday, at Louisville Elementary School in Stark County, everyone was rooting against a snow day.

Teachers, staff and even students wanted to go to school.

“I was like 'Oh no!' But then we ended up not having one and I was like, Yeah!" said a fourth grader named Gabby.

They showed up looking like they just rolled out of bed, wearing slippers and pajamas.

“I’m so glad it was not a snow day,” said teacher Missy Miller.

The pajama party was actually a fundraiser called PJs for DJ, with everyone donating $1 to help the family of 9-year-old DJ Patterson.

The bright fourth grader, who is well liked at school, was recently diagnosed with a rare soft tissue cancer called non-rhabdomyosarcoma.

He underwent surgery on Feb. 9 at Akron Children’s Hospital to remove a tumor between his ribs and muscles. He’s now started aggressive chemotherapy treatments at the medical center.

“This is really rough because we’re supposed to fix things for him and this is something we can’t fix,” said Barb Patterson, DJ’s mother.

DJ is Barb and Dennis Patterson’s only child. They say the healthy, athletic soccer player showed few symptoms.

“He was fine,” Dennis said, “and then in early January, he started having stomach pain."

Their pediatrician thought it might be acid reflux, but when DJ started having a little chest discomfort and seemed lethargic, his parents took him back to the doctor. A chest X-ray revealed the tumor.

“Thank God that we did take him and get him checked,” Barb said.

The Pattersons are now encouraging everyone to trust their instincts too anytime something doesn’t feel right.

“Whether negative or positive, it’s important to do because we don’t know where we’d be if we hadn’t,” Barb said.

DJ still faces a tough road ahead, but his parents say they’ll be fighting cancer with him every step of they way. They are extremely grateful to everyone at the hospital, in the community and at the school district for all of their support.

“There’s no way to thank everyone,” said Barb and Dennis, “Everything is just so much appreciated.”

To donate to the family's GoFundMe account, click here