RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – An elaborate haunted house has drawn people to a North Raleigh neighborhood for the past several years. A teen cancer survivor created the experience with the goal of giving back, and this year, there’s a new twist.
Edward Thompson adores everything about Halloween.
The creepy noises, the jumping spiders, whatever may emerge from the darkness.
“I just love scaring people and being scared myself,” he said.
That’s as long as it’s the Halloween kind of scare.
The Thompson family also knows a different kind of fear.
“Six years ago I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” Edward said. “It became really hard for me to beat my cancer, so while I was in a slump, my mom and dad said, ‘Hey what do you want to do this year that would cheer you up?'”
From his hospital bed, Edward designed his first haunted house.
It has got more elaborate each year, and it isn’t just for fun, it’s a way to give back.
People who visit the haunted house at 9401 S. Mere Court can donate to Give Kids The World, a nonprofit resort where children with critical illnesses and their families can stay for free. The Thompsons stayed there when Edward received a trip from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
This year, for the first time, there will also be a blood drive.
“Most kids that go through cancer treatments have to get a lot of blood donated to them,” Edward said.
Although he can’t donate blood due to his treatments, this is the next best thing.
“He’s got a really good heart,” his mom Sarah Thompson said, wiping away tears, as she explained that even in the middle of his cancer treatments, Edward was concerned about whether he could donate blood to others.
Along with his heart for helping others, his passion for Halloween is spreading to the whole family.
“I like helping,” Edward’s younger brother, John, 10, said.
Even Sarah, who never liked Halloween she said, has developed a new appreciation for the holiday.
“Once you’ve been through what we’ve been through, it’s not scary anymore,” she said.
Edward is cancer free and will graduate from high school in the spring.
But if the Thompsons are looking forward to getting the yard back when Edward goes to college next year, their sons have other ideas.
“Of course I’ve got my little brother who will hopefully continue the tradition,” Edward said.
“My mom and dad think that it’s going to be gone,” John said. “But they don’t know what I have planned.”