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

by Steve Lackmeyer Published: April 10, 2012

Sometime later this year, the top floor restaurant at Devon Energy Center will open to the public. But with diminishing odds of survival, Brown was unwilling to wait that long.

What happened next is a tale I had to wait a few weeks to hear as Xander endured the harshest chemotherapy in his life.

It begins with Brown approaching family friend J.W. Peters, who in turn contacted an acquaintance at Devon, Tony Vaughn, a vice president, who then set in motion a whirlwind tour that indeed would have wowed the Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe in all of us.

None other than Larry Nichols, executive chairman of Devon, greeted the pair upon their start of the tour that clear, sunny January day. Contractors loaded up a bag with hard hats, construction stickers, gloves and other mementos usually reserved for dignitaries.

The adventure included a ride 30 feet up via a scissor-lift in the middle of the rotunda, followed by a ride all the way to the 50th floor on an unframed elevator cab. Xander and “G” also went up to the roof — atop the mechanical 51st floor — and enjoyed a view that will be seen by only the very few. Perched up high, Xander and “G” spotted their car parked by the Santa Fe Train Depot. They gazed toward Children's Hospital, where the boy faced a week of chemotherapy.

Xander, accompanied by his mother and grandfather, last week returned to Devon Energy Center where I met them at nebu. The cancer has not subsided. But when his mom gets upset at such news, it's Xander with the brave face. He reminds her, it could have been worse. The future, for Xander, is not set in stone.

When retelling this tale, the adults who accompanied Xander on his visits to Devon Energy Center struggle not to tear up. Yet in Xander's presence, there are no tears. There can be no tears. For Xander, downtown's growing skyline is a glimpse of an exciting future — one he's yet to give up on.