Young leukemia patient's dream lives on in remote schooling program

- It was the dream of 9-year old Omar Hassan to stay connected to his school classmates while he battled leukemia. His parents and the hospital, quickly realized the benefits an iPad or a computer can offer.

Now, they're working hard to pass that technology on to others in his memory.

From her dialysis chair and with the help of an iPad, Ashley Noblin recently finished high school and started college.

"It definitely takes your mind off of what's going on to you at that moment," said Ashley.

She has one little boy to thank for the diversion.

It all started with Omar Hassan, who had been at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, battling leukemia on and off since the age of two.

"He requested while he was going through the treatment here that he wanted to just attend his own school. That was his idea," explained Jamila Hassan, Omar's mother and President of the Omar's Dream Foundation.

And so his parents set up computers and cameras in his hospital room so he could do just that. He got special permission to wear school clothes too.

"I went in to see him and he said, 'Shh! can't talk to you now!' Why? 'I'm in school.' What? You're in the hospital! You're in a room! No; no he was in class," said Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Gary Dahl.

Doctors were amazed by how well it worked: keeping kids engaged and keeping their minds off their treatments.

And Omar had a dream: that he'd help others do it too.

"He will bring this program to the kids so they are not sleeping all the time. They are doing something with their life," said Jamila Hassan.

Omar passed away in April of 2012. But his parents didn't want to let go of that dream.

And so they started the Omar's Dream Foundation and began holding yearly fundraisers to make it a reality.

Lucile Packard can now dole out computers, iPads and headphones, connecting kids and their schools.

"I see a huge difference when they do this, because they stay in school. They say, 'You know what? I can do this. I can do this,'" said Pam Simon, Program Manager of the Adolescent Young Adult Cancer Program Pam Simon.

It has made a huge difference for Daniel Cohn, who started Stanford at the same time he started chemotherapy.

"I try to live as normal a life as I can. But this allows me to -- when I have to do chemotherapy -- still be able to go to class," said Cohn.

Omar's parents told KTVU they're happy about the impact the foundation has made so far. They say Omar would have loved this.

"I feel very proud of my son Omar; that he did this program when he was alive and we are able to continue his legacy even after he left us," said Hassan.

The foundation has plans to expand beyond just Lucile Packard in the coming months.

The Omar's Dream Foundation annual fundraising 5k/10k run/walk is set for Sunday October 11th from 10-2 p.m. at Hellyer Park, 985 Hellyer Ave, San Jose. For more information, visit the foundation's website.

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