‘He’s not ready to stop fighting’; family, friends of 10-year-old with cancer hope to ‘Move Mountains for Mo’

Community turns out for 'Move Mountains for Mo' charity golf tournament, April 5, 2019, Bloomington, Utah | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

SOUTHERN UTAH — An annual golf tournament held by St. George’s Tonaquint Data Center has helped many well-deserving organizations over the past 10 years, but this year’s tournament, which was held on April 5, took on a whole new meaning when tragedy struck close to home.

Morgan “Mo” Clifford, date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Move Mountains for Mo Instagram page, St. George News

The past year has been nothing short of a nightmare for 10-year-old Morgan “Mo” Clifford. While other kids went to school, played with friends or hit their first home run, he has been going through something no child should ever have to face. Mo has spent the past year fighting a war against an aggressive form of cancer, and the battle is far from over.

“He’s not ready to stop fighting,” Lindsey Howard told St. George News. “He’s like an amazing little boy.”

Howard and her husband, Chris, who is the vice president of sales at Tonaquint, have known the Cliffords for seven years, growing close as their boys became friends playing on several sports teams together.

“They’re the most giving people,” Howard told the packed room of golfers who turned out for the golf tournament. Raising four kids, the Cliffords live by meager means and never have a lot of money, Howard said, but they are always opening their home and helping out complete strangers. “Now it’s our turn to help out.”

Matt Hamlin, CEO of Tonaquint, also has a son who is also a close friend, and he has coached the boys on various sports teams. He said that Mo, a sports fanatic and “walking stat book,” is usually every coach’s favorite, and he told St. George News that every dollar raised at the tournament would be matched and donated to help out the family.

It was just over a year ago when Mo received his diagnosis for a medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children. At first the family only noticed a few odd symptoms, like minor pains and headaches, but when he started losing coordination, they immediately brought him in for an MRI. Ever since, Howard said it has been “one gut punch after another.”

Lindsey Howard speaks about ‘Moving Mountains for Mo” at Tonaquint Data Center’s annual charity golf tournament, April 5, 2019, Bloomington, Utah | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

Mo was immediately rushed to Primary Children’s Center in Salt Lake City to have his tumor removed. He spent all of last summer in Seattle strapped to a table undergoing 35 unsedated 45-minute treatments of proton radiation therapy and then six months back at Primary Children’s for seven cycles of the most aggressive chemotherapy drugs available. Remarkably, Howard said, Mo has stayed brave the entire time.

“He’s always been a different kind of kid,” she said. “It’s not surprising he was giving this to handle.”

However, three weeks ago when doctors requested a follow-up MRI to see how things were progressing with his disease, they found the cancer had not retreated like everyone had hoped. The tumor had returned, and the relentless cancer is now spreading.

“He’s back home recovering from the second attempt to remove the tumor, but now with it (cancer) traveling down his spine, doctors are still trying to decide what is the best thing to do next,” Howard said, adding that Mo is in a tremendous amount of pain every day but that he has stayed positive through the whole ordeal.

With his father taking off work to travel and his mother forced to quit her job as a nurse to be at home for full-time care, Howard said the the financial strain is taking its toll on the family. Collectors have already been calling for payments on bills now totaling in the millions.

“His family has so many decisions to make and so much going on that the last thing we want them to have to worry about is financial stuff,” Howard said.

She said the community has been great rallying together, but with a long road ahead and many things still uncertain, they need everyone’s continued love, support and prayers.

A GoFundMe account has been set up for Mo, and everyone can follow this “remarkable” young boy’s battle and witness his strength for their own at his Instagram page.

“Let us all join in this fight as we help move mountains for Mo,” Howard said.

Another fundraising activity for Mo has been scheduled for April 25. Being put on by the Kalamity & Kaos dance company, this event will start at 6 p.m. with a silent auction, bake sale and pizza from Hungry Howies, followed by a performance by Kalamity & Kaos at 7:15. The event will take place in the Hafen Theater at Tuacahn High School. Tickets are $5 per person or $20 per family.

Ed. note: When making charitable contributions it is advisable to consult with professionals for tax advice and investment risks.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.


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