65°
Partly sunny
THU
 73°
 55°
FRI
 75°
 53°
SAT
 79°
 50°
SUN
 85°
 53°
MON
 85°
 54°

Vote for the Best of Sonoma County SO SONOMA COUNTY finalists: Best beach, picnic spot and more!

Lakeport honors a boy who captured town's heart

  • Family friend Stephanie Apodaca straightens a police uniform belonging to 11-year-old Ronnie Dekeyser, an honorary Lakeport police officer who was honored Sunday with a memorial parade through town and a service at the fairgrounds' racetrack. (BETH SCHLANKER/The Press Democrat)

He was 11 years old when he died last week, but in his short time, Ronnie Dekeyser touched those he met with a ready smile and laugh that defied a fight with brain cancer that lasted more than six years.

Teachers, friends, firefighters and police officers joined with his family Sunday to commemorate the boy, who was made an honorary officer in the city Police Department four months ago, fulfilling a wish on his bucket list.

“He was a great addition to our department,“ said Police Lt. Jason Ferguson, who said officers got the lad a full uniform so he could ride along and also lead the high school homecoming parade.

Ronnie Dekeyser Memorial

X

On Sunday, there was a posthumous parade of sorts for Ronnie, now counted among Lakeport's finest. The escort was led by flag-waving motorcycle riders and more than a dozen flashing fire and police vehicles that made their way through the heart of the lakeside town of 5,125 people to the fairgrounds.

“The community really came together for this kid,” said Justin Braider, a cook at Old World Tavern who came out to watch the procession pass by on Main Street.

Over the past year, the community held several fundraisers to benefit the Dekeyser family, enabling the parents to take time from their jobs to care for the youth as his disease tightened its grip.

Until four or five months ago, “he lived a pretty normal life,” said his father, Ron Dekeyser, a custom painter who lives in nearby Kelseyville. “His last month, he was pretty well paralyzed. He could move his head, but he lost his functions, eating and swallowing.”

His mother, Jennifer Hittson, said he went through two years of chemotherapy and radiation, “nonstop.”

Ronnie had inoperable brain stem cancer that was diagnosed before his fifth birthday. Initially his family was told he probably had four to six months to live as a result of the disease, known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.

comments powered by Disqus
© The Press Democrat |  Terms of Service |  Privacy Policy |  Jobs With Us |  RSS |  Advertising |  Sonoma Media Investments |  Place an Ad
Switch to our Mobile View