FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. -- Cancer is a devastating diagnosis at any age. Tyler Ralston was diagnosed this May with osteosarcoma at 17 years old. Doctors found a tumor on his spine the size of an avocado.
"Going to a small birthday party at Wolfson Children's Hospital for an 18-year-old is not cool if you know what I mean," said Tyler's teacher Tom Lewnes.
This past July, Tyler Ralston spent his 18th birthday in the hospital. He was diagnosed a few months back with spinal osteosarcoma -- a rare form of bone cancer.
"It's not a good cancer to have in your spine. It's very aggressive. And, we're finding that out with the treatments. We've been through several treatments of chemo so far and the tumor is still growing," said Tyler's dad Jeremy.
His dad said Tyler woke up May 5 with limited use of his arms and legs. They found a tumor that originally stopped at T1 on his spine. But now, even after several rounds of chemo, it has spread down to T8.
So, Tyler's teacher Tom Lewnes and good friend Sophia Bertolini have started a fundraiser.
"He has a couple of dreams that he wants to do. So, we are trying to make his dreams come true. A bunch of our friends that we know from ROTC and from school are coming together to make this happen for him," said Sophia.
As a member of the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, he wants to go to Washington, D.C. He's big into US military history, which is fitting with his Independence Day birthday. But, he also wants to see the Grand Canyon.
"He wants to see the sun set and enjoy the beauty of it," said Jeremy.
So this weekend Tyler's friends and family are hosting a car wash. It's something Jeremy, Tom, and Sophia all say Tyler has done many times to help different organizations throughout the years.
"Somebody had mentioned, is there a rain date. No, because cancer doesn't have a rain date. If it's pouring down rain, we're still going to be out there, throwing soap on the cars if we have to and the rain will wash it off," said Tom.
Time isn't on their side. Each day the cancer grows.
"After last week, us finding out that it had spread quicker, we're trying to move things up before the tumor starts disabling him so he can actually enjoy the stuff," said Jeremy.
"He was just given a raw deal. It's just how do we help him deal with it," said Tom.
The car wash will be at the Ruby Tuesday's on County Road 220 in Fleming Island. They'll be out there rain or shine from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. collecting donations.
If you can't make it out to Fleming Island but would still like to help, Tyler's grandmother opened an account at the VyStar Credit Union. Checks and money orders can be made out to Etta Ralston. The bank account number is 7506727222.