Young Warriors battle childhood cancer, sickle cell disease

Published 1:24 am Thursday, September 28, 2023

By Haley Mitchell Godin

Young Warriors Battling Childhood Cancer and Sickle Cell Disease

September is a month dedicated to raising awareness about childhood cancer and sickle cell disease. On September 21, 1983 the month was declared as Sickle Cell Awareness Month through a presidential proclamation. Then on September 26, 2019 another presidential proclamation recognized the month as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

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In Crenshaw County, these observances take on special significance as citizens stand in solidarity with children like Elliot Hamm, Dorian Wiley, the late Correy Bozeman and many others, along with their families, who have demonstrated immense courage and strength in their struggles against these life-altering diseases.

The Hamm Family’s Journey

On August 3, 2022, the world of Dozier residents Craig and Kelly Hamm was forever changed when their two-year-old son, Elliot, was diagnosed with leukemia. Kelly became Elliot’s primary caregiver, while Craig took on the role of the family’s sole breadwinner.

“Life was already hectic, but exciting and positive changes were happening and it was so good,” Hamm said. “However, suddenly in August of that year, right after my husband started his new business, Elliot was diagnosed with leukemia and we found ourselves in the middle of the biggest storm of our lives.”

Motivated by a desire to help others and raise awareness about childhood cancer, Kelly and Craig share their story of hope and educate others about the signs and symptoms of cancer. They urge their community to “go gold” in September to support this cause. Their strength has been fueled by their faith and the overwhelming love and support of family, friends, and their community.

Correy Bozeman: A Journey of Faith

The son of Mathew and Meredith Bozeman of Luverne, Correy Bozeman’s journey began in September 2020 when he was diagnosed with undifferentiated round-cell solid spinal tumors, a rare and challenging condition that made treatment complex and uncertain. Correy succumbed to cancer in the spring but the specific type of cancer that claimed Correy’s life remains unknown. 

“Our faith in God played a huge part in allowing us to find peace,” Meredith said. “We knew we had the support and prayers of all of Crenshaw County and beyond.”

Correy was a devoted sports fan and had a passion for his favorite teams, including the Luverne Tigers. He loved Transformers, and Legos but above all, he was deeply devoted to his family.

Correy displayed remarkable courage throughout his battle and his loving spirit and kindness left an indelible mark on his community according to Elle Shurden, a Luverne School aide.

“He changed my life for the better, at his best and worst, and I will forever be grateful for Correy sharing his strength and wisdom with me,” Shurden said. “His precious little soul left us too soon, but his memory will be with me every single day.”

Dorian Wiley: Conquering Sickle Cell Disease with Courage

Dorian Wiley’s journey began with a diagnosis of sickle cell disease shortly after his birth. Dorian’s parents, DeMario and LaShawnda Wiley, both Brantley natives, found themselves visiting Children’s of Alabama frequently, where they received compassionate care and support for their son.

The appointments helped the Wileys better understand sickle cell disease and how to care for Dorian. At seven months old, he experienced a splenic sequestration crisis, a common complication in pediatric patients with sickle cell disease. This condition required hospitalization and the use of a ventilator. 

Dorian would need a splenectomy, but this procedure had to wait until he was two years old. In the meantime, he received monthly blood transfusions.

Dorian, now 14, has quarterly clinic appointments to monitor his blood count levels. He also had the honor of serving as one of Children’s of Alabama Ambassadors in 2022, where he raised awareness about sickle cell anemia.

Dorian’s future holds the promise of health and success, driven by his determination and unwavering spirit. 

“I see Dorian being healthy and thriving,” LaShawnda said. “He has the drive and determination to always try, even if things don’t work out to his advantage. He shows up for himself always and as long as he keeps that mindset and outlook the possibilities are endless.”

The stories from Crenshaw County remind citizens of the incredible strength, resilience, and hope that can emerge in the face of adversity. 

To learn more about the Hamm family’s journey and how you can support the fight against childhood cancer, visit For more information about the care available at Children’s of Alabama, please visit