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Birthday parade celebrates 4-year-old with leukemia

Friends, neighbors and firefighters celebrated 4-year-old Jude James’s birthday with a parade past his home.

James was diagnosed with leukemia on Dec. 16. His compromised immune system means family and friends couldn’t come over for a party for him on Feb. 20. Instead, James and his family stood in their front yard and waved at cars bedecked with signs. Friends passed birthday presents through car windows. James sat on his dad’s shoulders and waved at passing fire trucks.

Thanks to Paw Patrol, James is a big fan of firefighters. Fire trucks from volunteer fire departments located in Carriere, McNeill, Henleyfield and Bush drove past the family’s house and waved hello to the birthday boy.

“We’ve been completely blown away with the amount of love and support we’ve gotten from this community,” said Jude’s father Blake James.

The James family has only lived in the neighborhood two years, but neighbors have been quick to rally around Jude.

“It’s been almost overwhelming how many people have shown up,” said Jude’s mom Emily James.

Family friends Dean and Michelle Orgeron have made wooden orange ribbon door hangers and are selling them to help the family with medical expenses. Homes throughout the neighborhood display the “Hey Jude” door hangers.

“One of the things that’s been absolutely overwhelming is the number of people, not only in this community, but all over the country, that have prayed and supported this little boy,” said Debbie Ryles, Jude’s grandma.

Friends and neighbors at Saturday’s parade sported shirts to support the family with “Nobody in this family fights alone” and “Make leukemia extinct” slogans.

“We just ask that everybody continue to pray for us, because they’re working. He’s just crushing this thing. He’s already in remission,” said Blake James.

Jude has two years left of treatment.

On April 10, a benefit ride from Lumberton Lodge, 104 West Main St., to Big Mama’s Cajun, 131 Sandy Smith Road, Poplarville, will be held to raise money for the family. The event will be $20 per vehicle. For more information contact 601-606-8832.