Community gathers to pay tribute to Dorian in special vigil

WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) — Hundreds gathered in Westerly Sunday night to pay tribute to a special 8-year-old boy whose courageous battle with cancer took the world by storm.

Dorian Murray, known to the world as #DStrong, passed away earlier this month after a years-long battle with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of pediatric cancer he was diagnosed with when he was 4 years old.

Friends, loved ones and total strangers turned out Sunday to remember Dorian in a vigil at Westerly High School.

The service included music from Rachael Fusaro, singer/songwriter of “Never Giving Up,” a prayer from Pastor Mark Benson, and a moment of silence.

“When I do look back, it is a whirlwind, I try to remember all of it and we have all these pictures to remind us of all the great moments that we had with him at the end,” Dorian’s mother Melissa said Sunday.

“The fact that he could bring so many people together, to me, I look at him as my little hero, cause he has inspired so many people so quickly, and he’s just a little boy from Westerly, Rhode Island,” added his dad, Chris.

Dorian’s spirit – and the DStrong hashtag – reached many across the globe when his wish to become famous went viral.

In December, after a checkup indicated cancer cells were in Dorian’s spinal fluid, his family decided to end his treatment.

Days later, Dorian told his dad he had a goal. According to his mom, Dorian said he wanted to be famous on “the bridge in China.”

“He meant the Great Wall of China,” Melissa Murray said. “But we knew that would be hard with the long travel and everything.”

So, Dorian made some adjustments to his goal.

“I’m just thinking before I go to heaven to try to be as famous, like, as much as I can,” he told Eyewitness News’ Walt Buteau.

With the help of social media, his wish quickly came true.

National and international media outlets – including CNNCBS NewsBBC News and even outlets in China – picked up his story.

Celebrities, politicians, first responders and countless other people posed for pictures with handmade #DStrong signs in several countries, including China, France, and Italy.

Now, Dorian’s mom said she is writing a book and is looking to collect stories of how her son’s battle and strength impacted others.