Young leukemia warrior’s K Club is a legacy of kindness, inspiring hope and charity after his passing; his family named ‘Kindest Family in America’

Local

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – “He read books to me,” Reid Barron said. “Keaton slept in one bed on one side, I slept on the other side.”

“We spent five and a half years working for Keaton trying to keep him safe and healthy and alive,” Holly Barron, said.

The Barron brothers are all three years apart. Holden is five. Conley is two. If Keaton were here, he would be 11 years old. Keaton is forever eight, the same age Reid is now.

Photo goes with story
Keaton

“He started the K club,” Reid said. “He’s my older brother.”

“When we lost him we had to put that energy somewhere, and I think our choices were somewhere positive or somewhere negative,” Holly said. “I think Keaton left us the K Club so that we would have something to work on so that we could keep working for him.”

To understand the K Club, you have to know where it started.

“When Keaton was two and a half, he had all these unexplained illnesses. Just little things like a low grade fever or his finger was infected or his belly was kind of dissented. So we went to the doctor a couple of times and couldn’t really figure out what was wrong, and then finally one day, we were at like a mommy and me gymnastics class, and he sat down and wouldn’t do anything, and that was so unlike him, because he always did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Holly said. “I took him to the doctor really on her lunch break. She squeezed me in, and they finally did blood work, and she was gone for a really long time. I thought, ‘Well, it’s her lunch break.’ She came back and she said, ‘It looks like Leukemia. I need you to go to Children’s Hospital to the tenth floor. Do not stop. Do not get him anything to eat. Go straight there. Go to the 10th floor, and they will tell you what to do.'”

The 10th floor of the Children’s Hospital is where children go to fight pediatric cancer. An oncologist met Holly and two-and-a-half-year-old Keaton at the door.

“He said, ‘Keaton is really sick. We need to get him in ICU right now. I wish that I could explain more of what we need to do, but we need to go now,” Holly said. “It ended up that his white blood cell count was higher than they had ever seen, and they were worried that he was going to have a stroke. We went into ICU for eight days. The day after we arrived at the hospital we got the official diagnosis that it was Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and then at that point life just stops.”

Photo goes with story
Keaton reading to his brother.

That was Aug. 30, 2012. The next five years would be a cruel back and forth battle that Keaton would eventually lose.

“He received about two and half years of treatment, actually did really well that first time through, rang the bell, was finished with treatment. He rang the bell in January of 2016, and by March he was having again weird, unexplained symptoms,” Holly said. “He couldn’t see. He had this stomach bug that would kind of come and go. They did a spinal tap, and the cancer was back. He relapsed, and we started over, and it was another two years of treatment, and it was harder this time, and his poor body was just exhausted, and he was just happy as can be. He complained one time and said, ‘I don’t want to do this again.'”

He was ready for the next fight, one his family would carry on in his honor. Keaton began recruiting what would become an army – The K Club.

“It was just going to be a cute little thing where kids at the clinic could bring a dollar, a dime or a quarter and join this club,” Holly said. “They made little membership cards to hand out.”

Membership was one dollar, or whatever you could afford. The only prerequisite to join – kindness.

“Keaton himself said, ‘And we’ll spend all that money on charity,’” Holly said.

Photo goes with story
Keaton, ever hopeful.

They soon recruited at least one member from each state and even some from other countries.

“People starting sending us $20 or $25. Luke says we always kept it in the little envelope and carried it around and did kind deeds with this little envelope of cash,” Holly said.

The K Club was born and so was Keaton’s brother, Holden.

“I was in one hospital, and Keaton was in another hospital,” Holly said. “Then right before Holden’s first birthday, he relapsed again, and this time he relapsed while he was on treatment, and so it’s even scarier, because obviously the chemo wasn’t working.”

Keaton celebrated his eighth birthday in the hospital. Doctors then sent him home.

“I didn’t want to know anything, so, I didn’t ask a lot of questions. We just went day to day, and just took care of him the best we could,” Holly said. “I didn’t want to know. Scary things. Scary things were going to happen either way.”

“They didn’t think he was going to make it the rest of the week. They said, ‘You might have a few days,’” Luke Barron said. “We were able to bring him home for the final five and a half or six weeks or so.”

“He wanted to go home. It was so cute, because hospice had set up a bed in here,” Holly said. “He said, ‘No. I want to go to my room, to my bed in my room.’ He went and slept in his room with Reid. It was the sweetest thing.”

Photo goes with story
Keaton maintained his magical smile through adversity.

And one they keep to themselves.

“People know that he came home. Nobody has seen pictures after. We had a crisis in Dallas where he stopped breathing. No one has seen a picture past that. We haven’t really talked about that,” Holly said. “On anniversaries of his passing away or just like an extra rough day, we’ll try to go out and spread some kindness somewhere or another and see if we can make somebody else feel better, because we may not be able to that day.”

The K Club is now a 501(c)(3). And that envelope of cash has now grown to nearly $1 million. Of that, during the past three years, they have donated $130,000 to cancer research, remodeled Keaton’s Clubhouse on the 10th floor of the Children’s Hospital, and in the works are the renovation of a YMCA basketball court for children, and the creation of a hospital area for families of pediatric cancer patients.

“We want to help those families who are battling childhood cancer based on our experiences and what would’ve helped us or made Keaton feel better, and then tying that in with things he was interested in, like Legos,” Holly said.

“We both loved to play Legos,” Reid said. “Donating Legos to the hospital for Lego parties.”

When families cannot afford funeral costs, The K Club helps cover the expenses. The cadence of their kindness march has been heard across the country. Someone nominated the Barrons for Parents Magazine’s “Kindest Family in America” contest, and they won. The recognition included an appearance on The Today Show, a $10,000 cash prize and a $15,000 donation by Tyson Foods to the charity of their choice. The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma will now be able to provide 30,000 more meals to people in need.

Photo goes with story
The Kindest Family in America.

Kindness.

“When we get frustrated or upset or sad we can work on something that’s positive, and it usually makes us feel better,” Holly said.

Keaton always chose kindness.

If you’d like to become a member of The K Club or become a monthly donor to help spread kindness to those battling pediatric cancer, visit https://www.kclubkindness.org/.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest News

More News

Pay it 4Ward

More Pay It 4ward

National News

More U.S. & World

Washington D.C.

More Washington

Your Local Election HQ

More Your Local Election HQ

Daily Oklahoma Coronavirus Data

Trending

Contact In Your Corner Team

Latest News

More News

SCAN ME: KFOR App QR Code

image of QR Code

KFOR Digital Originals

More Digital Original

Follow @KFOR on Twitter