Community rallies around boy battling cancer

Boulder City is a tight-knit community, known for family-friendly events and small-town charm. It might not be shocking then, to learn that the community is pulling out all the stops and coming together to support one of its own in his fight against leukemia.

Residents of Boulder City, as well as the Las Vegas Valley, are coming together to support Michael Manteris, a sixth-grader at Garrett Junior High School, in his battle against the debilitating form of cancer which, according to the American Cancer Society, accounts for nearly a third of all childhood cancer cases.

In early October, Michael’s parents, Nick and Jessica (Aldrich) Manteris, took him to a doctor’s appointment because of lingering symptoms of what, according to his father, the family thought was a virus he couldn’t shake.

“After the appointment, Michael went back to school like normal,” Nick Manteris said. “An hour later the doctor called and said … his blood counts were extremely low and (he) needed a transfusion right away.”

The family soon received the devastating news that Michael had been diagnosed with childhood acute myeloid leukemia.

Michael has since been moved to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where he will undergo three to six rounds of chemotherapy prior to receiving a bone marrow transplant. In all, his treatments will require him to be hospitalized for nine months to a year. He is currently undergoing his second round of chemotherapy.

Already the Southern Nevada community has begun to rally around Michael. On Saturday, during Santa’s Electric Night Parade, his 9-year-old sister, Bella, and the kids from Dance Etc., where Michael studies hip hop and jazz, dedicated their performance to him, and they will do so again tonight during their “Christmas Dreams” performance at the historic Boulder Theatre.

Earlier this month, former Ultimate Fighting Championship star Randy Couture raised money for Michael, and on Monday he had a surprise visit from former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson and UFC President Dana White.

In the coming weeks there are a number of events planned to support Michael in his battle.

There will be a bone marrow donor registry drive at 5:30 p.m. Sunday among the young singles group at the Arrowhead Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 801 Arrowhead Trail, Henderson. Another donor drive will be held in Boulder City from 7-8 p.m. Wednesday at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 916 Fifth St.

Both donor drives will be held in conjunction with Be the Match, which has managed the world’s largest donor registry and trained volunteers to take and test samples at the events for the past 25 years.

Michael had hoped to be able to return home after his first round of treatment, and Garrett Principal Jamey Hood had agreed to hold an assembly to welcome him home. Though it has turned out that he will not be able to return from Los Angeles, an assembly is scheduled from 1:30-2:10 p.m. Monday at the school.

Students will show their support for Michael, and there will be performances by the school’s band and choir as well as cheerleaders from Boulder City High School. Students also will listen to a guest speaker from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the entire event will be filmed by students from the broadcast class, which will put together a video to send to their ill classmate.

The Manteris family has begun a crowdfunding campaign to help with medical costs at youcaring.com and is asking people of faith to say a prayer on Michael’s behalf on Dec. 18. In Boulder City, prayers will be led at the family’s church, St. Andrew Catholic Church, 1399 San Felipe Drive, as well as at the St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, 5300 El Camino Road, Las Vegas.

His family includes grandparents longtime Boulder City resident Sue Manteris, former NBC news anchor and current city public information officer, her husband Art Manteris, Ron Aldrich of Las Vegas and Debbie O’Brien of Arizona.

A letter-writing campaign also has been started to help Michael keep his spirits up during his ordeal. According to Sue Manteris, their goal is to reach 12,000 letters, as Michael is 12 years old, though they would be thrilled to pass that number. If you would like to participate, send your letter to Children’ Hospital Los Angeles, Michael Manteris, Room 4103, 4650 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027.

To learn more about the crowdfunding campaign or to donate, visit http://bit.ly/2hf6xbk

Contact reporter Hunter Terry at hterry@bouldercityreview.com or call 702-586-6711. Follow him on Twitter @HunterBCReview

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