ALLIANCE – Dallas Hollis hopped off the school bus and walked to the side of her house, wearing a pale blue dress and sneakers and hugging the straps of her glittering hot pink backpack.
When she spotted the brand new above ground pool in her backyard, the 7-year-old Alliance Early Learning School student couldn’t help but jump and laugh in excitement.
“I didn’t think it was going to be that big,” she said happily, a smile spreading across her face.
With his infectious smile and brightly colored clothes, Dallas radiates positivity.
Looking at the vibrant curly-haired girl, most wouldn’t be able to tell that she was battling kidney cancer about a year and a half ago.
Dallas – who is now cancer-free – had a swimming pool built in their backyard this week thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the help of several Alliance-area businesses.
“She definitely had cancer”
Something was wrong.
Sherre Hollis knew her daughter needed medical attention in February 2020 when a large lump appeared on her stomach and she was unable to use the bathroom. She rushed Dallas to the hospital and the doctors realized the girl needed surgery.
“They knew she definitely had cancer,” Hollis said.
Doctors diagnosed Dallas with Wilms tumor. It is the most common type of kidney cancer in children, according to the American Cancer Society, and 500 and 600 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Doctors in Dallas removed her left kidney, which had been completely invaded by Wilms’ tumor.
Soon after, she began a 22 week chemotherapy treatment plan. Throughout the process, she lost all of her hair and 15 pounds. Yet her mother said she never complained.
“She handled it really well,” Hollis said.
Login with Make-A-Wish
As Dallas continued with her treatment, her family contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. The agency grants the wishes of children struggling with serious illnesses.
Hollis said Dallas initially wanted to use their wish to visit Disney World, but could not at the time due to the coronavirus pandemic. His second choice was to build a swimming pool in his garden. Make-A-Wish approved the request while she was undergoing chemotherapy.
More than a year later, the time has come for Dallas to have its swimming pool. Initially, the plan was to put it in place on September 27 – Dallas’ 7th anniversary – but bad weather delayed construction by several days.
When the contractor finally arrived at the Hollis Residence, he encountered another problem. A tree stump in the yard made the ground not level, preventing them from installing the pool.
Local businesses provide support
After learning that the tree stump would have to be removed before the Dallas pool could be installed, Hollis shared the news on Facebook. She asked if anyone in the area who owns a stump grinder would be willing to help. She also asked if local businesses with a dump truck would be able to move the dirt to make room for the pool.
Dallas May of D&G Stump Grinding, an Alliance-based company, was one of the business owners who responded. May, who knows Dallas through a family friend, watched her during her battle with cancer and wanted to do something right, given everything she’s been through.
“The little girl is awesome,” May said.
D&G Stump Grinding removed the strain for free. Additionally, May asked another company he works for to help her out. He told his boss at Baird’s Tree Service the story of Dallas. The Canfield-based company let May use one of the company’s dump trucks to haul the dirt off the property.
“It makes me feel good to have helped someone,” he said.
Brad Ferguson of Ferg’s Excavation also offered his services. Ferguson heard about Dallas via Facebook after several customers and friends message him from Hollis asking for help.
“They told me they had contractors lined up to build the pool and do all of that, but they just needed a helping hand with the trucking. We’re (located) in the area, and that’s always good to help, ”he said. .
Ferguson said the situation “came close” for him because a cousin of his had gone through an uphill battle with an illness.
“For me, personally, a lot of people take the life entrusted to us for granted,” he said. “Some people aren’t that lucky, so if we can improve it a little bit, even a little while, it’s worth it to me.”
Hollis was blown away by the response from the community and the willingness of the people to do what they could to make Dallas’ wish come true.
“It’s amazing what our little town is going to do,” she wrote in an email.
Contact Paige at 330-580-8577 or [email protected], or on Twitter at @paigembenn.