Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Superheroes turn out in force to bid farewell to “little warrior”

Superheroes of all sizes and descriptions gathered at St. Patrick’s Church in Mayobridge on Saturday to bid farewell to the greatest superhero of all, little Kayden McKeown.

The poignant scene was a fitting tribute to the brave five-year-old who lost his battle with leukaemia on Wednesday afternoon, passing away in his mother’s arms in the intensive care unit of the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

Communities across the district had taken the plight of little Kayden to their hearts when he was diagnosed with a deadly strain of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) T Cell in May of last year.

The youngest of three sons of Paula and Killian McKeown, the diagnosis devastated the entire family. Gruelling bouts of chemotherapy and radiotherapy followed before the family was told that Kayden hadn’t responded as well as they hoped, and further specialist treatment in England offered the best chance.

Keen to offer whatever assistance possible to the McKeown family, relatives and friends swung into action and ‘Kayden’s Journey’ of fundraising and campaigning began.  The group helped organize dozens of events to boost funds, while keeping followers informed of Kayden’s progress, sharing personal stories and photos along the way.

Kayden and his family were delighted to spend Christmas together at home in Mayobridge before his health suffered another setback in early January.  On Wednesday night his heartbroken family released a statement announcing that their “little warrior” had lost his battle.  And even in the midst of their own grief, they were thinking of others and appealed to people to consider registering with DKMS to become a stem cell donor.

Posting on Kayden’s Journey page, the family said: “It is with deepest regret and sadness that our beautiful son Kayden will continue his journey with the Angels as Heaven has gained our little warrior after a long hard battle from the side affects of his treatment for Leukaemia. “We are so proud & blessed by how much love & beautiful memories we shared with him over the past 5 years x 

“Kayden brought life, love and happiness into our family & has shown immense strength and courage.  Kayden will always live on in our hearts and memories x We will always love our little warrior forever x.”

Indeed, the dozens of children dressed in Superhero costumes at Kayden’s funeral on Saturday was testament to the courage and bravery the avid Spiderman fan displayed during his all-too-short life.

Kayden’s Requiem Mass was celebrated in St. Patrick’s Church, Mayobridge ahead of interment in the adjoining cemetery.

He survived by his parents Killian and Paula, brothers Jamie and Ronan and wide family circle to whom deepest sympathy is extended.