Help can come by the armful.

Just ask Nicholas Thornton and his family.

Nicholas has aplastic anemia, a rare condition in which the body’s bone marrow does not produce enough new blood cells and platelets.

A local nonprofit group has raised about $14,000 toward the cost of a van to help with Nicholas’ transportation needs, but some enterprising kids have helped, too, by making and selling rubber-band bracelets.

Last January, Nicholas’ parents noticed some bruises that didn’t look quite right, so they took him to the doctor. Nicholas’ blood count was low; he was sent to Brenner Children’s Hospital where the diagnosis of aplastic anemia was made.

Weeks later, Nicholas suffered a brain hemorrhage and landed in intensive care. A second hemorrhage soon followed, and by May 1 he was transferred to Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, where he began rehabilitation.

“At that point he was not talking and couldn’t move his left or right side,” said Nancy Thornton, his mother. “We were there for 128 days of rehab, and now he’s talking and moving his right side, but his left side is still immobile.”

In September, Nicholas received a bone-marrow transplant from his dad, Jon Thornton. Nicholas finally returned home Dec. 11, but with plenty of challenges. Nicholas has a powered wheelchair and needed a van for transportation to his numerous medical appointments.

People who know the Thorntons— and a whole lot of folks who do not— have been contributing help in the form of money and time.

One of those was Noah Fowler, one of Nicholas’ best friends and a fifth-grader at Piney Grove Elementary School. Noah worked up the courage late last year to ask Principal Susan Frye if he could make and sell rubber-band bracelets to help his friend.

Frye said yes, and got the student council involved, too.

“It was a real heartfelt thing that a fifth-grade boy would come to my office,” Frye said. “It really touched my heart and so I was really taken — Noah’s humanity for a friend and wanting to help out.”

Noah and his companions have raised more than $650 for Nicholas and plan to continue the effort.

“I had a dream that I hope is one of those dreams that come true,” Noah said. He said that in his dream, he and some other kids were playing kickball.

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