KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A 12-year-old in Knoxville has experienced a journey that most of us will never truly comprehend.

If you are looking for a little inspiration in your life, look no further than Alex Grappin.

When we first met Alex in 2020, he was recovering from a leukemia diagnosis and complications brought on by chemotherapy. But, as his dad, Tony Grappin, told WATE a year later, Alex has continued to exceed expectations in his recovery.

“Last summer his therapist thought that he was about to plateau on recovery and then something just clicked in him, and he just started skyrocketing and hitting more milestones,” he said.

And that progress continues today.  

“Alex finished chemo in December of ’21, and so we are a year past chemo,” Tony said. “The cancer was enough. And then he had a brain injury due to his chemo. That was a beast. But, through all of it, it’s been awful, it has been but look at him. He’s making progress.”  

One of the keys to that early success in Alex’s recovery was due to the generosity of others through blood donations.

“He’s gotten red blood cells, he’s gotten platelets,” Tony told WATE.

Seeing the impact of receiving blood donations is not new to Tony, an avid blood donor himself.

“Once, you know, he received the blood, even though I have donated so much before that, I just think I can’t believe somebody took time out of their day to give my son’s life,” he said. “I mean, being on the receiving end of it, it’s giving me shivers right now. It’s been special. It really is.”

“It’s been an awful thing, but good has come from it,” Tony said. “I got emails from friends saying I haven’t donated in 10 years. I haven’t donated in 20 years, and I went and donated today because of Alex.”

The result of generosity helped Alex, who originally couldn’t move, talk or feed himself, to get back in school.

As far as Alex and his recovery, the road continues with no signs of giving up.  

“Will he ever run again; we don’t know. We’re hoping and we’re not giving up.”