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Anthony and Ivette Littlejohn with their son, Adrian
East County Wednesday, May. 4, 2011 6 years ago

In memory: Adrian Shawn Littlejohn

by: Michael Eng Executive Editor

As journalists, we’re tasked with remaining objective in our news coverage.

But sometimes, that’s just not possible.

There’s a huge lump in my throat as my fingers search desperately for the right combination of letters to describe the heartbreak we all feel for the Littlejohn family.

In the last two months, we featured Adrian Shawn Littlejohn, the 1-year-old son of Lakewood Ranch coach Anthony Littlejohn who battled bravely a rare cancer, twice on our cover. Last week, we reported after chemotherapy had stopped working that the family had moved onto radiation.

The day the paper published, we received a note from mother Ivette letting us know Adrian’s tumor had not responded to the radiation and that they were heading to Tidewell Hospice.

Adrian Shawn Littlejohn died at 9:15 a.m., May 1, resting comfortably in his mother’s arms. It was a Sunday.
“What better day to go to heaven than today,” Ivette wrote in her online CaringBridge journal.

The family will celebrate Adrian’s life at 4 p.m., May 5, at Woodland — The Community Church, 9607 S.R. 70 E. The Payton Wright Foundation’s Patrick Wright, Lakewood Ranch High School Athletic Director Shawn Trent and ESPN analyst Dick Vitale will speak.

Ivette says: “We are celebrating Adrian’s life with joy. ... Don’t feel obligated to wear black; we want light in the room to remember Adrian’s wonderful smile.”

I first met the Littlejohns in February at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. And even there — on the pediatric oncology floor — Ivette’s and Anthony’s love for their son warmed the room. There was nothing they would not do for their boy — even if that meant giving him peace.

The Littlejohns knew how to appreciate every minute of every day. To extract the most amount of joy from every moment. To celebrate even the smallest win like it was the Super Bowl.

And in doing so, you have inspired all of us at the Observer. We will never forget Adrian, his incredible strength and the love you all share.

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