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Changing downtown Oklahoma City's skyline represents future a boy yearns to experience

by Steve Lackmeyer Published: April 10, 2012

Rising 50 stories high, Devon Energy Center represents a lot of things to a lot of people. To civic leaders, it's a chance to portray the city as a thriving, growing modern metropolis. For real estate investors, it's a potential bonanza on the west fringe of downtown. And for one 10-year-old boy battling cancer, it's a representation of a future he yearns to experience first hand — but knows he might not get that chance.

Xander Moore knows time may be short. He's battled neuroblastoma since he was 2 years old. Doctors told his parents early on patients with such a diagnosis faced a discouraging 30 percent chance of surviving beyond five years.

The five years came and went. To Xander, the cancer he continues to battle is just another challenge to be overcome. He doesn't dwell on it, but he's not oblivious to the reality that governs his future.

The only hint of Xander's ailment is when his smile is interrupted by the inevitable yawn that hits him all too often as he struggles to keep his strength.

It's inspiring just to be in Xander's presence. He has spent his life living it to the fullest, playing baseball, going to school, and enjoying regular excursions downtown with his grandfather, Rick Brown.

Much like Charlie Bucket and his Grandpa Joe visiting Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, Xander and grandfather (who he calls “G”) are excited tourists on their downtown visits. They relish walking along the Bricktown Canal, or strolling through the Myriad Gardens. They have great fun at Bass Pro Shops, and they love imagining themselves as bankers inside the imposing Great Banking Hall at First National Center.

For the past three years, the highlight of each trip was keeping track of Devon's spiraling tower. The closest look the pair could get was over a fence surrounding the job site. The tower was frequently a bond between the two. In a moment of childhood curiosity, Xander did a Google search once to see which was taller — Devon Tower or the Eiffel Tower? (Eiffel Tower is 100 feet higher).

The tower also was a much needed distraction on each drive up to the Jimmy Everest Center at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center. And it was a beacon of hope for Xander and his mother, Ricki Lea, when they learned in January the boy's cancer was not only no longer in remission, but had spread through his entire body.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's...
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