Pediatric cancer survivor passes on nautical bed to new family

Sep 19, 2023

On Tuesday, Sept. 12, Philip Norton and his 18-year-old son, Braiden, sat down for a moment of reflection on Braiden’s childhood bed, just two days before he planned to pass the bed on to another generation.

“We were sitting in it ... and both of us came as close as you can come to shedding a tear without shedding a tear,” Philip said. 

The bed, which resembles a ship, was designed and constructed by Hinckley Yachts for Braiden when he was just two years old. The ship was meant to be an interactive place he could enjoy during his battle with cancer. 

“I was in a waiting room for a pediatric appointment with him — I saw a magazine filled with ideas for kids bedrooms and I thought that it would be cool to build him a nice bedroom to be in, hang out, and be comfortable,” Philip said.

Now, Braiden is 18, and looking forward to heading off to college next year, so Braiden and his dad decided it was time to pass the boat on. 

“I wanted it to go to another great home, and get used and enjoyed the way I did with it,” Braiden said

Both Philip and his son felt some mixed emotions about seeing the bed get trucked away to its new home. 

“It is bittersweet, I went through some hard times with my dad dealing with issues in that bed,” Braiden said.

Even though the ship is leaving the Nortons’ home, it’s sailing in a good direction. The family decided to hand the boat off to another pediatric cancer patient.

Danielle Russell was checking her inbox one day when she suddenly received a message from a foundation called Lucy’s Love Bus, about a boat bed giveaway. 

Russell has a six-year-old son, Jase, who is a pediatric cancer patient. Russell replied right away and sent an email to Norton explaining Jase’s story.

“We got five or six emails from families interested,” Norton said. “It was very tough to pick because what kid doesn’t deserve it? But we thought Jase fit the bill and was the best choice.”

“[Jase] is pretty thrilled,” Russell said. “He has already been playing with the cannon that shoots ping pong balls.”

In addition to the ping pong cannon, the boat includes an aquarium, a slide, a swing and a telescope. A little loft above the sleeping area acts as a crow’s nest.

All materials used to build the bed were donated, Philip said, and it took around 450 man hours of work to construct. 

Both families and some friends gathered on Thursday, Sept. 14, to unload the bed from the Norton residence.

The bed filled three pick-up truck beds completely. 

Nobody in attendance was happier than Jase, who couldn’t wait to get home and put his new bed to use. Jase said he loves trains, monster trucks, and of course, boats.