HOUSTON — Mahlon Hardt, a Nederland boy who won the hearts and support of thousands of Southeast Texans while battling leukemia, died on January 3, 2017. He was 12 years old.
It has been two years since his death and he is still capturing the hearts of many.
During his fight with cancer Mahlon lived with his grandmother, Angela Luke Hardt.
His mother passed away from a heart attack just four months prior to his diagnosis.
Angela went from losing her daughter, fighting for her grandson's life to watching his slip away. She said that when she lost him, she lost her purpose.
"It was just very difficult," Angela said.
Like many guardians who first learn of their child's diagnosis, she thought "why me?"
They made the 90 mile drive to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston and soon called the area their temporary home.
It was a shock at first. Mahlon never wanted to leave his room and spent most of his time in quiet.
Something changed. He began making friends on the 9th floor and opened his heart to the many groups and organizations that stopped by especially one that brought him LEGOs.
Angela said Mahlon stayed positive through the extreme rounds of chemo, transplants and long nights in the hospital.
He was just a little boy who loved LEGOs.
"One Christmas he had gotten way too many LEGOS. Like so many we couldn't fit them in the car," Angela said. "So he asked if he could give the rest to some of his friends at the hospital."
A brilliant idea was now etched into his 12-year-old mind.
Angela described their conversation like it was yesterday "and he said 'Nana i'd like to give every kid in the hospital LEGOS.' And I said Mahlon that would be so difficult to do."
Thus the idea of Mahlon's Mission.
Mahlon passed away just five days before his 12th birthday. His family knew they wanted to do something special on the day he would have turned 15.
Angela and the Mahlon's Mission team held a LEGO drive. Her goal was to collect at least 75 LEGO sets to give to the patients on the 9th floor.
Over 260 people from around the U.S. donated LEGO sets to Mahlon's Mission. Angela said this was enough sets to deliver to almost every floor.
On Tuesday, Angela and loved ones of Mahlon handed out LEGO sets to over 100 kids at Texas Children's Hospital. Due to a Flu outbreak, they weren't able to deliver to the 9th floor for the sake of the patient's health. Angela say's she plans to go back once the season calms down.
"Handing those LEGO's out, it's like he's here, " Angela said. "I think apart of him is here and always will be."
With each smile, Mahlon's spirit was felt even more inside the walls of the hospital.