In Times of Need, Northeast Pennsylvania comes to the aid of its own. In our regular column, Patrice Wilding provides a platform for area residents facing a variety of obstacles to create awareness and connect them with much-needed help.

Who: Ever since he was born to mom Cindy Collins on March 8, 2008, Taevon Gene Howard has filled her world with wonder and love. The 11-and-a-half-year-old Dunmorean is in the sixth grade at Dunmore Elementary Center, where his favorite subjects are math and science. He also attends the after-school programs at Throop Civic Center, where he enjoys playing basketball, Pokémon and computer games with the other kids. Taevon has always been special, having been diagnosed at just 12 weeks old with neurofibromatosis, which causes tumors to form in the brain, spinal cord and on nerves. Taevon’s condition is chronic and incurable but treatable, althought it has forced him to endure multiple rounds of chemotherapy already in his young life. He also has had blood and platelet transfusions and has undergone countless MRIs to monitor his health. After ovecoming numerous complications and re-emerging tumors through the years, Taevon learned in September of the regrowth of optic glioma on his right optic nerve, requiring more chemo. This time, however, he developed an allergic reaction and had to switch to a new medication in November, which he will continue for 12 to 18 months. Still, the sweet and silly preteen strives to make his family — including little brother Kaedon, 7, and grandmother Lori Collins (aka “Mama”) — laugh and smile with his sense of humor and goofy pranks.

What/when/where: Donations can be made online at or sent to P.O. Box 315, Dunmore, PA 18512, payable to Cindy Collins.

Why: Proceeds will be used to help with the cost of traveling weekly to chemo treatments and other appointments, and also to help Taevon’s mother cover unpaid days off from work.

In his own words: “When I am having a hard time or when I’m sick, people love to help and love me, but I would love to help them back.” — Taevon Gene Howard