Julie Locke‘s two-year-old son Dax was critically ill with cancer. He loved Christmas lights, so although it was only October, she put them up. When their neighbors found out why the Lockes had Christmas decorations up before Halloween, they came together to give Dax an early Christmas, and that story inspired the heartwarming film starring Candace Cameron Bure, “The Heart of Christmas” and the Matthew West song, “One Last Christmas.”
I spoke to Ms. Locke about the loss of her son, the support of the community, and the foundation she has created to give back to St. Jude Hospital, with thanks for all they did to help Dax. I asked her about the response to the movie. “It’s just been overwhelming, such a blessing. So many people’s lives have changed, their priorities are different. It has been so peaceful for me to know that my son’s life can help other people realize the importance of family and what love is really about,” she told me. “Dax was so strong. He was two and he was sick a lot. But kids don’t sit there and complain like we do. Seeing him so happy and full of life made me a stronger person. He was suffering, truly, but he always wanted to dance and be happy. I tried to let him see me being happy because that’s what he did for me.”
Locke started a blog on the social network Caring Bridge “to cut down on the phone calls” when Dax first got sick. She received over two million comments. “People would write me messages of inspiration and prayers and I could feel the love. It really helped me when I was feeling alone.” She said it was overwhelming to try to care for Dax. She did not have time for anything else. It was the neighbors who spread the word about putting up Christmas decorations and got the whole community involved, “a silent showing of support for us.” They were new to the neighborhood and knew no one in the area, “so it was really powerful.”
She set up a foundation to run St. Jude for one day because “they never charge families. They never worry about the money. They gave me a year and a half with my son that I never would have had. That’s my life mission.” She hopes people who see the movie will be reminded that “it is important to cherish every moment with your family, because that is what life is about. Life not about money or material things; it is about relationships and loving one another and helping one another. I hope people can see in the movie how people did that for me and how it changed my life. It’s such a fulfilling thing in your heart to be able to do that for someone.”
I have a copy of the DVD to give away. Send me an email at email@example.com with “Heart” in the subject line and tell me your favorite Christmas ornament. Don’t forget your address! (US addresses only) I’ll pick a winner at random on December 10.