SALEM — Nearly a thousand people crowded around the Salem Common gazebo yesterday asking for nothing less than a miracle to aid 1-year-old Mason Collins-Silva. It was an extraordinary turnout on a raw and rainy afternoon.
Mason, described as a battler, was diagnosed with leukemia in September. In February, on Valentine’s Day, he endured a bone marrow transplant. In March, he was sent home to his hopeful parents, Alissa and Kevin. He had his first birthday on April 5. Almost at the same time, the family was told the disease had come back, progressing to leukemia AML: acute myeloid leukemia. Doctors advised there is little more to be done other than to keep Mason as comfortable as possible.
When Melanie McKinnon heard of the diagnosis, she set to work, arranging yesterday’s rally in four days. Explaining the size of the crowd, McKinnon said that the family knows so many people. “It’s amazing how Salem is. This is what we do for each other. ... Hundreds of people wanted to help.”
“We’re praying for a miracle,” said Corrine Steller.
But there was more involved than that. Whatever the outcome, hundreds of people wanted the Collins-Silvas to know that this community is behind them. Steller noted that 15,000 people have signaled their support and prayers on the family’s Facebook page.
“This day is really a celebration of Mason’s young life,” McKinnon said.
Participants included the Salem fire and police departments, Mayor Kim Driscoll offered her help, U. S. Rep. John Tierney spoke, and Sen. Joan Lovely mingled with the crowd.
And then there were plenty of families, bringing along kids of all ages. Many showed their support by signing a giant poster. The Salem High School choir sang “Alleluia,” and the baseball team attended, too. Orange and white balloons were everywhere,and kids and adults wore T-shirts with Mason’s eager face on them. Others wore bracelets. It was an event at once uplifting and tragic, with friends of the Collins-Silva family speaking from the gazebo and fighting to maintain composure.