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07/07/1999
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6-year-old graduates from chemo and kindergarten
By Loretta Shea Kline
Catholic Key Reporter

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Danny Gimmarro
BLUE SPRINGS - He finished his last round of chemotherapy, was pictured on the front page of the Kansas City Star with professional golfer Vijay Singh, attended his kindergarten graduation and is looking forward to a trip to Disney World with his family in August.

It's been a month of milestones for Danny Gimmarro, the 6-year-old whose courage and unwavering faith in fighting a brain tumor inspired the St. John La Lande Parish and School community in Blue Springs.

Danny underwent his last chemotherapy June 12 and was doing well, his mother, Vicki Gimmarro, told The Catholic Key in a telephone interview June 16.

"We're done" with the chemotherapy, she said. "It's like this huge weight has been lifted from our shoulders."

The results of Danny's last MRI were good, and doctors at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City have found no evidence of the tumor coming back, Vicki Gimmarro said.

Danny's ordeal began last June when he began having headaches and vomiting in the mornings.

Since then, he has had two surgeries, radiation and intensive chemotherapy. He also spent a month last summer in the hospital rehabilitating from a stroke.

Through it all, Danny was positive, uncomplaining, concerned for others and relentless in his belief that God would take care of everything, his father, Steve Gimmarro, told The Catholic Key in an interview with the family in March. In that same interview, Danny said he knew he would get better because during surgery "Jesus told me."

Danny's principal, Karol Kleine, told The Catholic Key that Danny's concern for others and strong faith touched and inspired the school and parish.

The highlight of Danny's month of milestones was his kindergarten graduation, Vicki Gimmarro said. Danny was able to complete the required school work from home, and was feeling well enough to attend the June 4 ceremony with his classmates, who prayed for him every day of the school year.

"I don't think I've ever seen this kid smile so big as when he got that certificate," Vicki Gimmarro said.

Less than a week after graduating from kindergarten, Danny served as honorary caddy at the 20th Children's Mercy Golf Classic at Blue Hills Country Club. The charity exhibition featured professional golfers Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Steve Elkington and Vijay Singh. A picture of Danny posing with Singh appeared on the front page of the June 9 Kansas City Star.

Prior to the kindergarten graduation and golf event, Danny was feeling extremely sick from his second-to-last chemotherapy, Vicki Gimmarro said. He couldn't eat or drink, and was sleeping 20 hours at a time. And then, "he just made a tremendous turnaround," enabling him to attend events, she said.

Danny, his parents and two older brothers, Michael and Jon, are now looking forward to a trip to Disney World in August courtesy of the Dream Factory, a charity which grants wishes of seriously-ill children, Vicki Gimmarro said.

"The whole family is pretty excited," she said. "It's been a long haul."

And on the first day of school at St. John La Lande Aug. 24, Vicki Gimmarro said, Danny plans to be there to start first grade.


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