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Fairbanks cadet afflicted with cancer sees Air Force dreams dashed

Colleen Mondor

In January, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, nominated Fairbanks student Parker Merrifield for appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. Merrifield has been commander of his Civil Air Patrol (CAP) cadet group for three years, represented the Alaska Wing of the CAP at four National Academies in Texas, Colorado, Oregon and Washington D.C., and he’s the only Interior Alaska cadet to receive a Glider Solo rating and earn an FAA Private Glider Pilot certificate.

Merrifield was on a path toward flying for the military when he was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and potentially deadly cancer that affects children. His diagnosis effectively disqualified him from attending the academy.

According to a website developed to raise awareness about his situation and collect much-needed donations, Parker has undergone eight surgeries at the UCLA Cancer Center and in Alaska to remove cancerous growths and fight off a serious post-operative infection. In all likelihood, chemotherapy will follow.

The Greater Fairbanks Community Hospital Foundation has established a community donation account to defray the extensive medical bills that Parker’s treatment has incurred. The Fairbanks Ice Dogs hockey team also held a recent dinner and are still collecting donations.

See the website for a video introduction to Parker Merrifield.  This Alaskan teen needs more help.