Services for Christopher Wilke, the 12-year-old Burbank resident who died last week after battling a rare form of cancer, will be held on Thursday and Friday.
A rosary and vigil will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, and a funeral Mass will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, both at the St. Robert Bellarmine Church in Burbank.
Christopher’s father, Joe Wilke, said he passed away peacefully last Thursday.
“He wasn't in any pain,” he said. “He was resting comfortably and surrounded by his family.”
Diagnosed in early January, Christopher was the first patient on record at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles — and among the youngest patients ever — to be diagnosed with a pure cholangiocarcinoma, a rare cancer of the bile duct, according to Dr. Hung Tran, the hospital’s pediatric oncologist and assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at USC’s Keck School of Medicine.
As hospital bills began to pile up, the Wilkes were overwhelmed by community support, which came by way of donations for medical bills and home-cooked meals for the whole family, Joe Wilke previously told the Leader.
“I want to thank the community for their continuing love, prayers and support,” he added.
The family had several fundraisers planned that they will now dedicate to starting a foundation in Christopher's honor as a way to “keep Christopher's legacy alive, and to try to help others so they can find comfort in his spirit,” Joe Wilke said.
An already-planned baseball game hosted by Christopher's team, the Ryan Dodgers, was held in his honor at Schafer field in Ralph Foy Park last Thursday, several hours after Christopher passed away in the morning.
Christopher’s best friend, Dylan Ryan, pitched, wearing Christopher's No. 48 jersey in his honor.
“[Christopher] was a huge baseball fan; that was his passion,” Joe Wilke said. “He loved playing and watching the game. He would play it every day of his life if he could.”
Follow Sameea Kamal on Twitter: @SameeaKamal.