Julian wasn’t the first 4-year-old who imagined himself a brave knight or a superhero, but he was one of the best at it. Embodying his characters was a joy to watch. He wore underpants over his pajamas “because that’s how Superman and Batman wore theirs.”
Julian handily transformed into a noble knight by fashioning a quiver out of a belt and dinner napkins; his arrows were wooden mixing spoons and his bow a plastic coat hanger. It was his love of battles – classic good guy vs. bad guy stuff – that saved us in an unimaginable moment that first week in the hospital. How do you possibly explain to a 4-year-old the terrible news the doctors had just broken to us?
As Julian woke in ICU from his first surgery, I held his hand, and it came to me.
“Buddy! You’re not going to believe this! We just found out you’re a real-life superhero! The doctors said they found something inside your head that makes you super special, like a young Jedi. It makes you have real-life super powers!”
His beautiful smile came through, and our mission began.
– Nettie Boivin, Julian’s mom
How Team Julian Became a ChadTough DIPG Partner Family
Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is considered “rare” by scientific standards, but the families who have been impacted by the disease find that hard to believe. Julian Boivin, son of Brad and Nettie, was diagnosed with DIPG in 2010 at the age of four. He fought for seven months before gaining his angel wings on July 3, 2011 – 16 days after his fifth birthday.
Three years later, Chad Carr would be diagnosed with DIPG. The families live less than an hour apart and know many of the same people.
“This disease sure doesn’t feel rare,” said Tammi Carr, co-founder of The ChadTough Foundation. “We know so many people close to us — both in proximity and through relationships — who have been devastated by DIPG. It feels way too common.”
Brad and Nettie Boivin founded Courage for Cures in 2011 as a way to honor Julian and raise money for DIPG research. The ChadTough Foundation was founded four years later, and ever since, the two organizations have worked side-by-side.
“We’re all working toward the same goal, we’re only 45 minutes away from each other, and we’re funding many of the same projects, especially at Michigan Medicine,” said Nettie.
Seeing the overlapping efforts, the Boivin family decided to dissolve Courage for Cures and become a ChadTough DIPG Partner Family.
“The Carr family and The ChadTough Foundation have been so generous and thoughtful in honoring Julian within their events,” said Nettie, “it just made sense to officially join forces and fold our efforts into their larger organization and broader reach.”
With the two organizations coming together, the families can strategically complement one another instead of duplicating efforts. Nettie, who has historically been active within the DIPG Collaborative, will continue that role on behalf of The ChadTough Foundation.
They are also bringing their incredible community of supporters in and around Detroit (and beyond) to learn more about The ChadTough Foundation and its efforts.
“We started out in 2011 as Team Julian, and we will continue on as Team Julian,” said Nettie. “Courage for Cures will cease to exist in name but not in mission. The changes in operations are administrative only.”
More About Julian
Julian Boivin was born on June 17, 2006, to parents Brad and Nettie. Diagnosed with DIPG on November 29, 2010, Julian fought bravely for seven months before gaining his angel wings on July 3, 2011. Julian was a wonderful big brother to Mirabelle. His baby brother, Bastian, was born after his passing, reminding the Boivins of Julian in looks and personality.