BLOUNT COUNTY, TENN. - There is no shortage of love and support for a nine-year-old boy who is six months into his battle with Leukemia. Thanks to his teachers and classmates he has no shortage of hats, either.
"I always liked hats. But now my head is cold a lot of the time so I wear them more," said Alex Alexander.
Alexander was rushed to East Tennessee Children's Hospital in mid-August of 2016.
"It was the worst phone call of all time. The doctor called and said 'Get Alex to Children's as quickly and safely as possible.' There are doctors there waiting for him. His platelet count is so low he could bleed out," said Janice Alexander, Alex's mom.
The fight hasn't been easy. Alex has gone through chemotherapy and has missed the majority of this school year.
When asked if he missed going to school, Alex said, "9,000%. I miss everything. Probably my friends the most."
At no surprise to his mother, Alex's classmates and teachers at Union Grove Elementary School miss him, too.
"When that happened to him, I hurt in my heart for him and I just wanted to figure out what I could do to help him to not suffer or hurt and feel included still," said Amy Buchanan, Alex's 3rd-grade teacher.
To keep Alex's presence at the forefront of the school's mind, a giant stuffed monkey now sits at Alex's desk in homeroom. The monkey goes everywhere the class does. It's gone to choir concerts, gym class and even Trick-or-Treating.
"It's amazing. It makes Alex feel like he's a little bit a part of everything still," said Janice Alexander.
The monkey is a constant reminder of Alex, but the school didn't stop there.
"His mom told me how much he liked hats and I thought we could do a hat drive for him. We got all kinds not even just baseball caps," said Buchanan.
"He got 112 hats," said Janice Alexander.
Alex and his mom came to pick up the hats at Union Grove Elementary School, and when they pulled up, the entire school was outside to greet them.
"On his face, you could see he was overwhelmed. So many people came out to see him he was excited," his mom said.
"Yes. Very much. A ton," said Alex, when asked if he was surprised to see the whole school outside cheering and waving to him.
Alex and his mom returned home with the hats, as well as the hundreds of Valentine's from his classmates, and hung every one along the living room ceiling.
For Alex, there's an easy favorite.
"The blue one that says 'I hate cancer,' because I do. I really do hate cancer," he said.
Alex isn't done with his fight against cancer, but he and his mom are thrilled to have the love and support of so many during the battle.
"I love everyone of them," said Janice Alexander.
"Thanks," Alex said.
(© 2017 WBIR)