Nearly 3 Years Later, Wacee Simenson Rings 'His' Warrior Bell at the Montana Children's Hospital

 

January 13, 2021

The Simenson family presents their Warrior Bell plaque to the Montana Children's Hospital in Kalispell.

Wacee's Warrior Brigade is huge and stretches all over Montana and across the United States. In Blaine County and Chinook in particular, the 10 year old Meadowlark Elementary student is an Icon, looked up to by the youngest and the oldest in the community alike. At press time Wacee's Warriors had a following of 12,101. That number is nearly triple the entire population of Blaine County.

If you have lived along the Hi-line or even spent sometime visiting the communities along the Hi-line, chances are you have heard of Wacee's Warriors.

Wacee Simenson, a familiar face to anyone from Chinook has fought the good fight against pediatric cancer for roughly two and a half years. After spending time in Denver following his initial diagnosis, Wacee then received the majority of his treatment at Kalispell Regional Healthcare Montana Children's Hospital.

While in Denver, Wacee and his family got to witness first hand the joy of a child ringing the Warrior Bell. That sight, the joy on the face of the child, and the satisfaction of accompanying family members provided strength and courage to Wacee and his family.


The Warrior Bell is a symbol of the patient beating Cancer. They ring the Bell after they have completed a thorough testing procedure, clearing them of cancer and essentially stating that they beat cancer.

"Initially, when we saw that, we felt like that would be a really cool thing to do. We could make a trip back to Denver, see the sights and all," said Wacee's mom, Tomi. "After spending so much time at Kalispell Regional and developing such a strong bond with the staff there, we knew that Kalispell was the place we wanted Wacee to ring the Warrior Bell."

The family then visited with the Oncology Department, only to learn that Kalispell Regional Healthcare did not have a Warrior Bell for Cancer survivors to ring, "I knew immediately that we wanted to donate a Warrior Bell to the hospital for the kids to ring," said Tomi.

Wacee's long battle with Cancer began in February of 2018 when he was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. "Wacee had stomach pain that was very alarming to the Doctors treating him, so they did an X-Ray and it revealed a large mass about the size of a football in his chest," Tomi recalled.

Fast forward 28 months to June, 2020 and Wacee had just completed his chemotherapy regiment. Donating a Warrior Bell to the hospital was the final step to formally signal the end to his battle with pediatric cancer.

Tomi reached out to the hospital to determine a path to design and put in place a Warrior Bell. The Montana Children's Foundation oversees all fundraising and campaigns and were very helpful in helping the family with the donation.

"We got in touch with an artist and we went over my vision and his vision. The artist wanted to do huge presentation that we decided was just too much. So we looked at things more and decided to go with a plaque and a bell."

The family put much thought into the design "The bears at Lake McDonald represent a time when things were tough and he couldn't go out in public. We spent a lot of personal bonding moments together at the lake and it became a special place that had a lot of meaning to us," said Tomi. The poem included on the plaque is one that Tomi wrote herself for Wacee that includes all children going through the tough battle with Cancer.


Another reason for the smaller version of the Warrior Bell was to make it mobile, "There is a whole new hospital built and we wanted to make sure when the Oncology wing moved into the new building the Bell could move as well," Tomi added.

"It was an honor to ring that bell that my family donated, and it felt great to have people watching and cheering me on," said Wacee. What does the future hold for the 10 year old, "I want to focus on showing my cattle, staying healthy, having fun with friends, really want to learn how to play the guitar."

10 year old Chinook Meadowlark Elementary student Wacee Simenson is truly Superman to the more than 12,000 followers in the Wacee's Warrior Brigade. Wacee was the first to ring the Bell in a celebration held on New Years Eve at the hospital.

 
 

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