It was almost four months ago when we first introduced you to 11-year-old Max Willis from Ormond Beach, Fla. It was the heart wrenching story of him losing his dog, a.k.a. "best friend" as he put it, during a stop in Noxubee County, which prompted the community to join in the search.
However for many, this just wasn't any search but instead one of great importance and urgency. You see, at the tender age of nine, a rare inoperable tumor was discovered on Max's brain. Shortly before losing his "best friend", doctor's had given Max only weeks to live.
Much to the pleasure of Max, his family and the community as a whole, Max's dog, "Lucky Puppers," was discovered about two weeks after his disappearance, safe and sound underneath a porch in the Shuqualak community.
"Reward enough for me is for Max to get his dog back," said Noxubee County resident Greg Cotton at the time. "That's the most important thing."
Family members agreed.
"I would have driven to Fargo, North Dakota, to get this dog for Max. He's happy," said Bob Willis, Max's grandfather, who came to pick up the dog.
And happy is how Max made so many others. Although near the end Max was paralyzed on one side of his body, family and friends say he energized everyone around him with his continued love for life and all that it had to offer.
While many mourn his passing, family and friends say Max left something truly worthy and that's a legacy a fruitfulness that can be imitated by you, me and the entire community.
Donations in Max's memory may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
c/o St. Jude Children's Hospital
501 St. Jude Place,
Memphis, TN 38105-1905
Max with his father, Sam Willis, and his dog, Lucky Puppers
Max with his dad, Sam, mom, Amy, and Lucky Puppers