Hope rides in cranes' creases

Published February 16, 2005

More than 1,000 origami paper cranes poured onto the courtyard at John Hopkins Middle School on Tuesday after students and faculty chanted, "Dylan! Dylan! Dylan!"

Dylan Crane, a seventh-grader, smiled broadly.

"I'm amazed," said the 12-year-old. "It's just good to know that there's a whole school behind you."

Students and faculty planned the rally to support Dylan, who has Ewing's sarcoma, a form of cancer commonly found in adolescent boys. On Friday, doctors plan to replace Dylan's femur, where the main tumor is located, with a titanium rod during a four-hour surgery. They hope it will stop the disease from spreading.

When students learned of Dylan's condition, they remembered a book they had read, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. In the true story, Sadako, a Japanese girl, got leukemia after the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima, Japan. Japanese legend says that making 1,000 paper cranes will bring good luck.

Sadako tried, but she died before making all 1,000 cranes. Her classmates made the remainder of the cranes and buried them in her coffin.

Gordon Bonnett, one of Dylan's friends, began making his cranes during classes.

"At first they looked like paper airplanes," Gordon said. "But I've gotten really good at them."

The ordeal began for Dylan last summer when he felt odd pains in his knee. On a trip to England, he would fall randomly, said his grandmother, Virginia Crane.

Back home in St. Petersburg, Dylan woke up one morning, crying and grabbing his knee.

"Dylan's not one who complains about pain," said his mother, Carole Lynn Crane. "So when I saw him there crying, I was like, "Okay, we're going to the doctor."' He was diagnosed with the disease in September.

Dylan started using crutches to get around school, but not many of his friends knew the extent of his pain. Classmate Jacob Stewart said he thought Dylan sprained an ankle.

Jacob remembers one day in science class when an adult gave Dylan an emergency message. He was not to eat anything because he would have to go to the emergency room immediately for a biopsy.

"No one knew what was going on," Jacob said.

News eventually spread that their funny classmate with dreams of being a film director had cancer.

Onstage in the courtyard at Tuesday's rally, Dylan looked at his peers and his teachers. "They say it takes a village to raise a child," he told them. "But it also takes a village to bring on a miracle. And I think that's happening now."