By Terry Wallace
DALLAS — Colleagues of Dyrk Burcie's firefighter dad organized photos with the 4-year-old's name and a message to cheer up the boy and his family as he fought cancer.
Dyrk's battle with the disease ended Monday morning with him dying peacefully at the family's home in Dallas, his father said.
Dyrk was "one of the happiest kids you could ever find," Dameon Burcie said of his son.
The boy was just 3 when a mass was detected on his abdomen. Doctors diagnosed him with pediatric liver cancer and later found the cancer had spread to both of his lungs.
Dyrk underwent nine rounds of chemotherapy and a liver transplant. "The last few weeks, he had some discomfort with all of his surgeries and chemotherapy," his father said.
In April, Burcie posted on Facebook that the family had decided to stop intensive treatment and make the most of the time Dyrk had left. Family friend and fellow Dallas firefighter Ronnie Roe talked to other firefighters about sending Dyrk photos of them posing with signs emblazoned with the boy's name.
The Dallas firefighters' photo project caught on with crews at other fire departments, who also posted images on a Facebook page devoted to the child.
One photo showed Dyrk's name spelled in fire. A crew in the East Texas city of Longview, about 125 miles east of Dallas, spelled out his name in hay before adding a mix of oil and liquid detergent and setting fire to it. One of the firefighters climbed a nearly 100-foot-tall ladder to snap the picture.
In College Station, about 90 miles northwest of Houston, firefighters posed in front of two trucks with their cabs tilted forward. Two logos from the "Transformers" action figures — Dyrk's favorite — were digitally added.
Others joined the effort to boost Dyrk's spirits, including youth sports teams, families and active-duty soldiers.
"It was absolutely incredible," Burcie said of the response. "Dyrk would ask almost every day if he could see the pictures that had been posted that day."
The boy's funeral is scheduled for Friday at First Baptist Church of Midlothian. He will be buried at Mount Zion Cemetery near Midlothian, 30 miles southwest of Dallas.
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"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Burcie family," Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans said in an email. "Dyrk's resilience, and smile, has taught us all a lesson in how to approach every day of our lives; and for that he will forever be in our hearts."