In the beginning of T.J.'s journey...

T.J. (Thomas James) Rufty is a 2013 graduate from Middletown High School in Middletown, MD. Three weeks before his graduation, he suddenly became severely ill and was diagnosed with Burkett's Lymphoma, a rare and aggressive subtype of Diffuse Large B-Cell non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, on Saturday, May 11, 2013 at Johns Hopkins Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Baltimore, MD. T.J. could not attend his graduation because he was and remains in critical care on a breathing ventilator, barely conscious and receiving intensive chemo-therapy. His Mother, Deborah Haberkorn and his 9 year old brother, William accepted T.J.'s diploma on his behalf. He turned 19 on June 7th, the same day he developed Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome (MODS) and began dialysis. The Doctors say, "Prepare for an ugly battle and a long-term residence in the PICU, T.J. is 'very sick'".

T.J. resides with his mother, Debbie Haberkorn, his step-father, Will Haberkorn, his 21 year old sister, Callie, 9 year old brother, William and his grandfather, Edward Dowling. As a young boy, T.J. could talk to anyone about anything with ease, nick-named, "Little Mayor". Today, his step-father, Will Haberkorn gave him his special nick-name, "TOJO". Friends and neighbors around the Middletown community know him as the "Town Strength” because T.J. was the one to call to move anything heavy. T.J. participated in Track his sophomore and junior years in High School. During his senior year, he managed the Cross Country Track Team. In February of 2013, he was recognized as, "Student of the Week" for receiving good grades.

His mother, Debbie Haberkorn says, "It takes a village to raise a child and Middletown has been our village. We are thankful. Every day, T.J. teaches us that through all of life's tough challenges, we push forward, love unconditionally and know we are blessed. We take things day-by-day and try to prepare for anything. Words cannot express how grateful we are for everyone’s love, prayers and support."

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