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East Tenn. campground gives terminally ill teen a special welcome

Clabough’s Campground in Pigeon Forge offered a special welcome to a terminally ill teen.
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 6:00 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - One cart after another trailed behind 17-year-old Jonathon Burdine, of Indiana, during a surprise parade at Clabough’s Campground in Pigeon Forge Wednesday afternoon. The campground’s leaders took less than a day to plan the welcoming parade after learning it was Burdine’s last wish to visit the camp during his last days.

Burdine has Ewing Sarcoma, which is a rare bone cancer. For five years, he and his grandparents said they thought he’d beat it until April. Doctors told them to start planning for his funeral. Instead, they planned a vacation to the Smoky Mountains.

“It brings me happiness and joy right now. Like, it’s crazy,” Burdine said.

Burdine was greeted with decorative signs, the Pigeon Forge Police Department, Sevier County Sheriff and fire departments and a host of strangers.

“It just makes you almost feel like there’s a little bit of hope and there’s just a little bit more that’s out there. It just makes a huge difference,” Heather Effler, a Clabough’s Campground employee and organizer for the parade, said.

Jonathon has a social media page documenting his journey as well as a donation site funding his trip and funeral arraignments.

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