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Off Central: Oregon man to bike to Arizona, raise funds for sick boy

(Facebook/Benjamin Elliott)

PHOENIX — Nico Pulido is your typical third grader. He loves football, video games and Legos. But he is also fighting for his life.

Last year, Nico was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a condition that causes excess fluid to build up in the brain, and an untreatable and incurable terminal brain cancer.

Nico, who lives in Queen Creek with his family, was approached by Benjamin Elliot — a Eugene, Oregon, man they had never met before — who committed himself to helping them in this trying time.

As complete strangers, Elliot saw Nico’s story on Facebook.

Elliot said he wanted to give back to Nico by biking in the Great Cycle Challenge. He will bike about 1,250 miles from Eugene to Queen Creek this June.

The cycling event brings together people from across the country who set a personal riding goal and challenge themselves to raise money to fight kids’ cancer.

Elliot said he felt compelled to act and knew this would be the perfect way to give back to a family that is enduring something he himself just went through with his own father.

“About a year and a half ago, my dad passed away from pancreatic cancer,” Elliot told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“I really wanted to honor him in a way that I could bike in a cycling challenge that raises money for childhood cancer awareness.”

In coordination with Nico’s mother Tiffany Pulito, Elliot flew down from Oregon on March 27 to surprise Nico at school and tell him about his biking challenge.

He also gave Nico a day he’ll never forget.

They started with shaving Elliot’s long beard and hair at Shave & Face in Phoenix. As Nico endures chemotherapy, Elliot said he did not want Nico feeling alone during the process.

Throughout the day of surprises, Elliot surprised Nico and his family with a limo ride around town and a shopping spree at Target to pick out some new toys and video games.

“There’s not enough words to say,” Tiffany Pulito said. “It’s overwhelming. It takes some of the pain away. It makes me want to go do things for other people.”

As he endures chemotherapy and fights for his life, Nico said it means a lot to him that Elliot would do this for him.

“That meant a lot to me because he really wants to fight this journey with me.”

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