Dorian Murray, whose #DStrong movement inspired many, has died

WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) – A Westerly boy whose courageous battle with cancer took the world by storm has died.

The family of 8-year-old Dorian Murray confirmed he passed away late Tuesday night in a post on their Facebook page, Praying for Dorian.

“To all of the amazing followers of beautiful Dorian. I am posting on behalf of Melissa and Chris due to the families difficult and emotional night. It is with a very heavy heart that i share this news. Dorian J. Murray (‪#‎dstrong) has gained his beautiful angel wings tonight and is now pain free. He was surrounded by people who love him and his transition to heaven was very peaceful. He was embraced by both mom and dad.”

Dorian’s long battle with cancer included years of treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of pediatric cancer he was diagnosed with when he was 4 years old.

In December, after a checkup indicated cancer cells were in Dorian’s spinal fluid, his family decided to end his treatment.

The world stands behind Westerly boy battling cancer »
The world stands behind Westerly boy battling cancer »

Days later, Dorian told his dad he had a goal. According to his mom, Dorian said he wanted to be famous on “the bridge in China.”

“He meant the Great Wall of China,” Melissa Murray said. “But we knew that would be hard with the long travel and everything.”

So, Dorian made some adjustments to his goal.

“I’m just thinking before I go to heaven to try to be as famous, like, as much as I can,” he told Eyewitness News’ Walt Buteau.

With the help of social media, his wish quickly came true.

#DStrong took off online and a tidal wave of support for Dorian started flooding in from every corner of the world.

Well-wishers sent heartfelt messages to Dorian and his family, praising him as an “inspiration.”

Social Stream: The world shows support for #Strong »
Social Stream: The world shows support for #DStrong »

National and international media outlets – including CNNCBS NewsBBC News and even outlets in China – picked up his story.

Celebrities, politicians, first responders and countless other people posed for pictures with handmade #DStrong signs in several countries, including China, France, and Italy.

In November, former New England Patriot Patrick Pass surprised Dorian with a visit. Then in January, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski showed up, too. Both players hung out with Dorian and his family, signed autographs and urged him to stay strong.

Later, Dorian and his family received luxury box seats to a Patriots game and Dorian was escorted around Gillette Stadium, where he was able to meet with team owner Robert Kraft.

From there, the DStrong movement showed no signs of slowing down – a fact that was evident when thousands gathered on a beach in Westerly to support Dorian. The crowd formed #DStrong on the sand and was photographed from above by a drone.

In recent months, Dorian received countless blessings, opportunities, and honors from people near and far, including a State House proclamation of DStrong Day, the key to the city of Cranston, a special DStrong license plate, and many, many others.

(Photo courtesy of Tim Yakaitis/DroneOn)
(Photo courtesy of Tim Yakaitis/DroneOn)

People battling cancer hailed Dorian a hero, saying he was a beacon of courage for those fighting similar battles.

Dorian told Eyewitness News all of the support he received was encouraging during his tremendously difficult battle.

“They’re just saying to keep fighting,” he said. “They believe in me. And it’s just really nice to know that so many people have my back for me.”

Dorian leaves behind an incredible legacy – and his mom said she hopes his story will inspire others to take on the fight against childhood cancer.

“Pediatric cancer is one of the top killers of children and yet it is so severely underfunded,” she said. “And there’s no reason for that. We need to change that.”

The family has requested privacy during this difficult time.

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