SOMERSET, Mass. (WPRI) — The Hill family’s Christmas display always shines a bright light on their Somerset neighborhood throughout the holiday season.
The Hills spend all year brainstorming what their house will look like, and the couple even starts hanging the thousands of lights that make up their display in October.
The Patton Avenue display isn’t just for show, however.
Each year, the Hills collect donations for a different cause, and this year, they’re raising money for a local superhero who’s stolen the hearts of many Somerset residents: Alex Rogers.
A cut-out of “Superhero Alex” currently sits on the Hill family’s front lawn, right next to their holiday display.
Elizabeth Rogers adopted Alex when he was just an infant. Her partner, Cassie Placido, describes Alex as a “ball of energy” who loves wrestling, his siblings, and Danny DeVito.
Unfortunately, life hasn’t always been kind to Alex.
Born premature and with Down syndrome, Cassie tells 12 News Alex has had the odds stacked against him, and last April, he was dealt another significant blow when he was diagnosed with leukemia.
But Alex has always taken everything in stride, and with a big smile on his face.
Cassie said he’s even battled leukemia like a true superhero, with his self-proclaimed powers of kindness and hope.
“The day he got admitted to the hospital, the nurses commented that he was flexing his muscles and dancing while they were hooking him up to IVs,” Cassie recalled. “That’s Alex in a nutshell.”
With Alex’s treatments winding down, Cassie said they’d hoped they would be able to spend Christmas together.
Unfortunately, cancer had other plans, and now Alex is in dire need of a bone marrow transplant.
Despite the fact he will be spending Christmas in the hospital, Alex’s spirits are still bright this holiday season, especially with the outpouring of support he’s received from the community.
“There’s no easy way to go through any of this,” Cassie added. “Things like this [Christmas display] just make it a little more bearable.”
Cassie said Alex got to visit the Hill family’s display the second night it was open.
“Alex drove by in the car,” Cassie recalled. “He got to meet Santa and see his face [on their lawn] … and just felt like a celebrity.”
Alex also loves getting mail, and has been receiving dozens of holiday cards to his hospital room daily.
The cards not only brighten up Alex’s hospital room, but they also make his day.
“Each card is unique,” Elizabeth said. “It just helps so much, and we’ve saved every single card.”
Elizabeth said Alex’s favorite cards are the ones that are homemade and have personal, encouraging notes inside.
And as those lights on Patton Avenue shine bright this holiday season, so does Alex’s message to everyone.
“He told me he just wants people to hear his Christmas story of hope,” Cassie said. “I said, ‘Well what is your Christmas message of hope?’ and he said, ‘It’s OK. Everything’s gonna be OK and I’m going to be well.'”
Cassie said she and Elizabeth are hosting a virtual fundraiser in the coming weeks as they begin their search to find Alex a match for his bone marrow transplant.
Anyone who wants to send Alex a card or gift this holiday season can mail them to the following address:
60 Sullivan Ave.
Somerset, MA 02725