Meet the cast of “The World of Hope”

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The stars of The World of Hope: Evan Fletcher, Nathan McDermott, Zach Meredith, Kayleigh Crabtree.

How children deal with chronic illnesses, such as cancer, is completely different than adults. To shine a light on how children fight the battle of cancer, Dayton Children’s created “The World of Hope,” a video that showcases how children use their vivid imaginations in a world of make believe to cope with living in a world of chemotherapy, radiation and staying for weeks in a hospital.

How “The World of Hope” was brought to life

The World of Hope was developed and created by Showdown Visual in Dayton. “Instead of using facts and physicians to create a cancer video, we wanted to show an analogy of the battles of cancer through colorful fairy tale images and a world of imagination,” explains Kenny Mosher, owner of Showdown Visual and videographer.

Children selected for the video are patients at Dayton Children’s currently receiving cancer treatment. The first character that was created was the knight. “The knight slaying the dragon on Mount Malignant was the first idea we came up with for the story. The next idea was a princess in need of healing potions, an astronaut traveling through the galaxy of radiation, and a cowboy capturing bandits.”

“We had to match the physical capabilities of the kids with the roles in the video,” explains Kenny. “And more than once, filming was rescheduled due to illness from extensive chemotherapy treatments.”

Kenny shares that the video had deep significance for him personally. “My mother is a four-time cancer survivor, so helping these kids escape their daily life of blood draws and MRIs for a little while to make a video that will give hope to the next generation of children with cancer is something I will never forget.”

Meet the cast of “The World of Hope”

Zachary Meredith, “The Knight,” filmed at John Bryan State Park

Age: 9, from Springboro

Pediatrician: Randy Eisenhut, MD, PriMed Centerville

Diagnosis: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (2011)

His doctor at Dayton Children’s: Emmett Broxson, Jr, MD

What he wants to be when he grows up: An oncology nurse or a first-grade teacher.

What Zach liked best about “The World of Hope:” “Slaying the dragon! Two of my neighbors were in the tail of the dragon, so it was fun to knock them over!”

How being a star in the video has changed his life: “It made me forget about the medicine and the pokes. Before the video came out, A Special Wish gave me a home movie theater system to watch movies. So after “The World of Hope” was released, I invited my family and friends to my own red carpet premiere. Sometimes people recognized me around town and asked for my autograph.”

Zach’s mother’s take: “Being part of the video gave Zach a purpose, he was no longer a ‘kid with cancer,’ he was a star,” says Tricia Meredith, Zach’s mother. “The video was a sense of healing for Zach; he knew he was passing on hope to the next group of kids with cancer.”

“Kayleigh, one of the stars in the video, had just finished her treatment after the video was released, so witnessing her progress gave him inspiration that soon he will be in the same place – remission.”

“Zach’s a true warrior and has an amazing attitude. We don’t feel sorry for ourselves, this is our life now and we will fight this and win.”

Kayleigh Crabtree, “The Princess,” filmed at Wegerzyn Gardens Metro Park

Age: 11, from Beavercreek

Pediatrician: Katherine Wingate, MD, Pediatric Associates of Dayton, Inc.

Diagnosis: Acute lymphocytic leukemia (2010)

Her doctor at Dayton Children’s: Mukund Dole, MD

What she wants to be when she grows up: A teacher, author and a millionaire to start a foundation.

Kayleigh’s favorite part of “The World of Hope:” “I liked wearing a tiara, the pretty pink dress and seeing my dad (who played the wizard in the video) get lost in the forest while filming. It was pretty funny. I liked walking through the field of flowers and the sea of bubbles. It made me forget that I had a port in my chest for chemotherapy.”

How the video has changed her life: “Being in the video was magical. I hope lots of other kids with cancer watch it. I want them to know they can get better like me. When I grow up, I want to have a foundation that helps other kids with cancer.”

Kayleigh’s mother’s perspective on the video: “It’s in Kayleigh’s nature to give back to others; she was born on Thanksgiving Day,” says Michelle Crabtree, Kayleigh’s mother. “She was so excited to be in ‘The World of Hope’ video because she wants to make a difference for other kids with cancer.”

“Kayleigh is a philanthropist at heart. She’s raised $40,000 for pediatric cancer through so many fundraisers that have benefited Dayton Children’s, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, A Special Wish and CureSearch. She missed out on two years of her childhood due to cancer, so for a few hours, it made up for some of those moments that she missed.”

Evan Fletcher, “The Cowboy,” filmed at Carillon Park

Age: 6, from Dayton

Pediatrician: Angela Long-Prentice, MD, Northwest Dayton Physicians

Diagnosis: Rhabdomyosarcoma (April 2012)

His doctor at Dayton Children’s: James French, II, MD

What he wants to be when he grows up: A surgeon for kids

What Evan thought about playing the cowboy: “Most of the time I don’t want to run and play, but I had fun being a cowboy and tying up the bandits and forgetting that I didn’t feel good.”

Greg Fletcher’s thoughts on how the video distracted his son during treatment: “During the filming, most of Evan’s days and weeks were not good,” Greg shares. “But for those few days, he had the chance to focus on just being a kid having fun with his friends, not being a sick kid.”

“He loved the experience of working with the videographers; he followed them everywhere. These kids spend so much time in the hospital that for a short period of time they get to laugh with friends and play in a make-believe world without cancer.”

Nathan McDermott, “The Astronaut,” filmed at the Challenger Learning Center

Age: 10, from Arcanum

Pediatrician: Amy Jones, MD, Samaritan Pediatrics

Diagnosis: Brain Tumor (February 2010), relapse brain tumor with several spinal tumors (November 2011). Recent MRIs show two new tumors.

His doctor at Dayton Children’s: Emmett Broxson, Jr, MD

What he wants to be when he grows up: Paleontologist

What Nathan thought about his part in the video: “I liked that my astronaut helmet had lights inside. Plus it was cool to get out of school for something fun for a change. Most of the time when I get out of school it’s for something not fun like a chemotherapy treatment.”

How the video helped Nathan then, and now: “The video took his mind off of treatment,” Anita, Nathan’s mother shares. He loved the attention he received from his teachers and students, it made him feel like such a star. He goes for weekly blood draws at the Dayton Children’s Vandalia Testing Center and the lab tech had him sign his autograph on a Band-Aid® that she now has framed on the wall. He thought it was so cool to get that type of response from people who have seen him in the video.”

The World of Hope stats

Total locations included in the video: 5

Music: Pat McInnis, composer

Props: Nicole Wentz, elementary school teacher

Voice: Jon Gross

Hours to edit the video: 40

Actual length of the video: 2 minutes, 54 seconds

Views on YouTube: Nearly 5,000 on the day it was released; more than 9,000 to date.


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