Heart of a Champion: A Hero

This piece was written by a young lady, Alexis Cirillo, who was inspired by the life of young Collins Dixon who fought brain tumor disease with great courage and a constant smile. Collins earned his angel wings in January, but not before he touched the lives of so many.

If I asked you who your role model was, would you say an actor/actress, prince/princess, or a character from your favorite movie or book? If you asked me I would say a relatively unknown champion. A little boy who changed my life and saved me. A little boy who goes by the name Collins Fitzgerald Dixon. Born July 22, 1999 he never knew the impact he would have on people. He never intended to become a hero, he just did, and the best kind. A true hero, with the heart of a champion, and the determination of a lion. Collins is a true role model for us all.

“Bend your knees, Ronnie,” used to ring out from the crowd every night there was a game. What was once an innocent way of reminding his brother to bend his knees as he shot a free throw, turned into an amazing campaign name. Suffering from a rare type of cancer, glioblastoma multiforme grade 4, Collins started a movement called “Bend Your Knees For Collins” it was seen everywhere. Spreading across our community and into our hearts, the courageous little boy said a simple phrase that told us to pray and humble ourselves in the sight of God. For Collins it was not a matter of whether or not the cancer in his body could be eradicated, rather it was living by example and believing that his purpose was determined by his faith. Driven only by his complete trust in God, Collins told others “By his stripes, I am healed,” even when the cancer had taken everything from him, he still spoke the words of Isaiah 53:5.

It is human nature to pity ourselves when faced with trials and tribulations. Certainly when faced with the possibility of death, the natural inclination would be anger towards the world and God. Rarely does one witness true strength in someone who is going through the type of things that could bring a grown man to his knees in utter despair. Although Collins was only 12 years old, he faced his villain head on with God and his loved ones by his side never failing to keep a positive outlook.

What is strength, character, courage, and honor? Strength, the ability to stand for what you believe in, but also to allow others to help you. Honor, putting others before you and serving something greater than yourself. Character, being true to yourself and your beliefs. Courage, being able to say and do things others couldn’t, standing up for yourself, and facing the unknown with a fighting spirit. Collins Fitzgerald Dixon was the epitome of a hero, someone I will always admire, and I will try to apply the amazing strength, character, courage, and honor to my life that he has shown me so much of. He was a true inspiration, he showed me the beauty of life, and that courage, character, strength, and honor can all be wrapped into one amazing person.

Collins passed away on January 14, 2012. At 12 years old, Collins Dixon left this world behind to join his Heavenly Father and teach the angels how to play basketball and football the Cherokee Warrior’s way. Not once did his faith waver, even when he found out he was dying. After a long difficult heart wrenching fight with cancer, God decided that Collins was ready. I will never be able to tell him of the impact that he had on me, I just hope he knew in his beautiful heart how he changed me and many others. Although we may never fully comprehend how Collins, of all people, was taken away from us, he knew. Collins was given a near impossible purpose on this Earth. He achieved it, much more than anyone could imagine.

At the funeral of Collins one of the speakers brought up the fact that Collins had more pictures of just one little boy that he’d ever seen. Which was true Collins had an abundance of photos and in every single one, he was smiling his beautiful brave smile. Even when he could barely move or talk, you always saw the smile in his eyes. A smile can change the way you look at someone, it invites you in to learn more about the person and the things they have hidden behind their smile. Genuine smiles are hard to find, but with Collins that’s all you found.


About The Brain Tumor Foundation for Children

Founded in 1983, BTFC was the first nonprofit in the U.S. to focus on brain cancer in children. Our mission is to support patients and their families.
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4 Responses to Heart of a Champion: A Hero

  1. Kathleen McIntyre says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. As the mother of a child who is trying to recover from a brain tumor, I find your words very encouraging. My son too, is always happy. Through it all, he remains positive. I thank God every day for the opportunity to be his mom. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on that beautiful little boy, Collins.
    Kathleen McIntyre

  2. Shannon says:

    My daughter wrote this piece and I am very proud of her! Bless your sweet heart Collins! Thank you for touching so many hearts!

  3. Robert Dixon, Sr./ says:

    This was well put about a beautiful young man that knew his God and trusted Him with his life. A short 12 years but what an impact! It is true about that smile, he always had it, even in times of pain and suffering. A great child I am so proud to call my grandson! I love you Collins. To God be the Glory for the life you lived, the person you were here on this earth. What a glorious time you must be having in heaven with God and all of those angels. Love you. Papa Dixon

  4. Alexis Cirillo says:

    I feel grateful that I knew him. He was and is a beautiful person and I pray to God everyday that cancer will be cured and stopped.

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