Boy given superhero funeral after losing battle with cancer
Many have seen a funeral fit for a hero, but you would be hard pressed to find a funeral fit for a superhero.
"I just decided that is what we are going to do," Staci Denton reflected. "Brayden always dressed up in costume. I could never get him out of costume. I was like that is what he would want."
No one knows exactly how it started, but Staci's son Brayden started his Spiderman craze at the age of 3.
"He did that almost every day of his life, it seemed. Once he started learning about Spiderman," Brayden's grandmother Karen Rodgers noted.
"He was always the superhero. Not afraid of anything. He'd conquer the world. It was just him," Brayden's uncle, Cory Denton added.
But one year later, he would come up against his arch nemesis - "DIPG," or childhood brain stem cancer.
"We got told from the get go it's terminal," Staci remembered.
"We were thinking surely there has to be a cure and then they tell you there is no cure. That is a hard thing to take," Rodgers said.
But Brayden went on the attack. Casting his web on the staff at Riley Hospital while undergoing 30 rounds of radiation.
"We would get him some sort of Spiderman shooter and he would shoot objects at them. So they always loved coming to his rooms because they always knew they would be shot with something," Staci remembered fondly.
Then the Make-A-Wish Foundation sent him to Universal Studios in Florida to meet Spiderman. Then the family decided he should go to New York to see Spiderman on Broadway. He was a hit.
"Everyone was looking and pointing. He was like, 'I am Spiderman'," Staci said reflecting on the walk into the theater.
He even posed for a picture crouching in the window overlooking New York City.
So Halloween brought an opportunity. Shouldn't the entire family look the part?
"We took Brayden to the costume store and he picked out everyone's costume. Of course with me, he decided I would be the witch," mom laughingly remembered.
"Sometimes it was unbearable to watch almost any of it, but just knowing it was something he would have loved - that helps you get through it," Karen Rodgers admitted.
As his health failed, Brayden lost the ability to walk and by the end even his ability to talk but he could still communicate.
"We just had him do the Spiderman symbol and it just clicked. He would do it even though he would barely move and barely talk he could still make the Spiderman symbol," Cory said.
Then on May 8, Brayden lost his battle and mom decided his friends should serve as pallbearers. And they were all there - Thor, Spiderman, Iron Man, Superman, Batman and the Hulk.
"I did it for him. It's the hardest thing I have ever done but I did it for him," Cory stated.
"We sent him off with all his superhero guys," Staci said.
Mom decided he shouldn't go alone, so she put some of his superhero toys in the red casket with him.
"We gave them all in size and I had to put a couple bad guys in there too because Super heroes have to have someone to beat up," Staci now remembers. "I think he loved [the funeral]. I think he was like, 'That is so awesome'."
Brayden's mother Staci said she appreciates all the attention her son is now getting because she hopes it will help bring attention to the problem of childhood cancer. She says she couldn't save Brayden but she hopes all this publicity will help save someone else.