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What My Daughter’s Illness Has Taught Me About Fatherhood

June 12, 2014

eric and allieMy name is Eric, and I’m a member of the FedEx flight crew team. I’m fortunate to have an amazing job flying precious things across oceans, connecting people and possibilities all over the world. It’s a wonderful job…But without a doubt, my most important job is being a father.

My kids, Allie and Zach simply amaze me every single day.

Recently, my daughter, 15 year old Allie, was diagnosed with a form of brain tumor called anaplastic ependymoma. As shaken as we were by the diagnosis, Allie has been a rock. The wonderful folks at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have cared her for as she fought through major surgery, radiation therapy, and difficult treatments.

It’s been more than a year now, and she’s doing great, in many ways living the life of a normal teenager, spending time with friends, pursuing a passion for photography, and is even a member of her high school’s dance team.

Being a dad to Zach and Allie has taught me lots of things.

As a parent, our main goal is to protect our children from the day they are born. However, when your child is diagnosed with cancer, you feel so powerless and helpless.

But from Allie’s experience I have learned that this makes you as strong as you have to be because there really is no other choice. Everyone has eternal strength, and you may not think it is there until the moment arises you have to have it.

Our Allie is so strong and she barely sheds tears or questions why she had to be the one to have cancer. People are definitely stronger than you think.

A remarkable aspect about being a father is seeing what your kids are capable of; kids are capable of things you cannot even imagine. I can barely even draw a stick figure, but Allie recently sold the first painting she ever created in a Make-a-Wish auction for $4,000!

I’ve learned that as parents, we can only do our best – you will not always have all the answers. Not everything will be perfect at times, but if we follow our instinct to love our children, the answers will come.

Note: Every year, FedEx Express names a Cessna Caravan plane in honor of a FedEx team member’s child who is a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. At this year’s tournament, the aircraft was named after Allie.


    Carol says:

    Love this human interest story especially at a time when we are celebrating fathers all over the world!

    Landon S says:

    This is really touching. Best wishes to your daughter and family, sir.

    Karen says:

    Wishing you all the best and sending prayers for your sweet daughter and family.

    Nichelle Williams says:

    This is such a wonderful story and it’s what parethood is all about. Giving so much of ourselves by loving and learning from them. Allie, I wish you nothing but the best and hope to see your pictures in a studio.

    Teresa says:

    It’s good to hear Allie is doing well. Wishing you and your family much happiness!

    Marie C says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. It is touching and inspiring. You and your family are in my prayers.

    Barbara says:

    I am so happy to hear your daughter is going great. You are right when you say you don’t know how strong you are until you have to go through something like cancer. I myself had cancer and it was rough for me i can’t imagine having a child go through it. GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

    Barbara says:

    I am so happy to hear your daughter is doing great. You are right when you say you don’t know how strong you are till you go through something as awful as cancer. I myself had cancer and I know how hard it was to fight for your life. I can’t imagine having a child have to go through it. GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

    Cindy Zavarelli says:

    Eric and Allie- I to have a 15 year daughter who I cant even imagine having to hear a diagnosis like that. Eric–your right our children are so much stronger than we can ever imagine and face adversity head on with thinking twice. Allie–you give me and my daughter so much inspiration and I only wish for you that the Lord will help you beat this and you can continue to do all those things that you want to do. Lauren, my daughter and I wish you only the best! Love and Prayers, Cindy and Lauren

    Michele Hoepfner says:

    Hi Eric—
    Thanks for sharing your story with your FedEx family. Your daughter is truly courageous and amazing. As a mother of two daughters, I cannot fathom how difficult it must be for you and your wife to watch your daughter battle cancer. We are keeping your family in our thoughts and prayers.

    XH says:

    We always thought we are our kids’ teacher but a lot of times, we learnt from them.
    Eric, you should be proud of having a little teacher everyday.

    Richard says:

    I’m sure all FedEx team members are praying for Allie. Good luck.

    Jon Hoopes says:

    Touching story. Thank you for sharing.

    David F says:

    What an inspiring story! Sometimes, our children are our heroes. Good luck to Allie, her dad, Eric, and her whole family. Amazing things await…

    Judy A. Young says:

    Thanks for sharing your Story. It makes me appreciate each Day even through Storms of Life. May God have Favor on Allie with a complete Recovery.

    Steve says:

    Your words of strength and that of Allie’s is truly inspiring. Happy Father’s Day.

    Kim says:

    Happy Father’s Day Eric! Zach and Allie are very blessed to have the support of such loving parents. Thank you for sharing your personal story.

    L Clark says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful and touching story. God Bless!

    Lissette Echavarria says:

    Uaoo tremendous,children is the best gift from God. I’m so proud to be a part of this company.

    Jenny says:

    Happy Father’s Day, Eric. And, go Allie!

    Nivedita Devi says:

    May God give you and family strength and courage in this difficult time.My prayers are with you.

    Kathy says:

    Thank you for sharing your family’s story. I am also the proud parent of a childhood cancer survivor. (21 year survivor!) This diagnosis can either pull apart or bring a family closer together. We are the lucky ones!
    Although I am new to Memphis, I have been with the company forever, and perhaps I can work with the Little Loopers next year? It would be an honor!

    Lois J. Moore says:

    Hi Eric, thanks for sharing this story about Allie, and may God continue to strength you and the family. This is an awesome story.

    Athi says:

    Eric and Allie – You are courageous and inspiring.

    Kavita Basak says:

    I cannot agree with you enough, as to what we have to go through as parents. My daughter, now 16 is also going through treatment for Brain Tumor for the last 4 years. She has gone through major surgery, radiation and is now fighting Chemotherapy. She has shown us the meaning of life. I could not have fought this battle without her support and bravery. Words cannot explain how amazing kids are. This has not stopped her from dancing, singing and rising funds for pediatric brain tumor. My thoughts and prayers are with you, as we fight the same battle. Happy Fathers day!

    Lorenzo Puno says:

    Hi Eric,

    Thank for sharing and happy father’s day!

    Teri Ellzey says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. It really puts life in perspective. You and your family are in my prayers.

    Cary says:

    The Allen’s are wonderful people who I am lucky to call friends. Allie is smart, kind, considerate and really, really brave. She is an inspiration to many and a blessing to all who have an opportunity to meet her!

    Philip Birmingham says:


    Thank you for sharing your story. Best wishes to you and your family.

    umesh Kumar says:

    Good job

    JudyAcevedo says:

    This is beautiful and an inspiration to read. I admire your strenth and I agree, when it comes to our Children our strength and faith is immeasurable. I will keep you in my prayers.

    Jitender Kumar says:

    Great….Eric, We are praying for Allie.

    John says:

    Allie, you are beautiful, and we all love you!
    Eric, thanks for sharing your story!

    John says:

    Today, Father’s Day, I want to express my sincerely best wishes to Allie and Eric. Thank you! We all love you!

    Michele Wilson says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. Best of luck to your daughter and family, going through these trails only make you that much stronger. Continue to be positive, there is always sunshine at the end of a storm!

    Jason Shipp says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is a powerful reminder of how precious our children are. I appreciate your positive attitude in the face of such a difficult circumstance. God be with you,

    Panos Schaefer says:

    Thanks Eric for sharing such a personal story.I wish all the best to Allie and to you and your family.God Bless!!

    Kim Sanzone says:

    Hi Eric, God bless Allie and your family. She is truly an inspiration. Her courage along with the love and support from you, your wife and Zach and countless others, has shown all of us the importance of a strong family bond. Especially through the tough times. I deeply believe in the power of prayer and will keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers….

    God bless….

    Fabiola Cortaza says:

    Thanks for your beautiful story, it is very inspiring.

    Blessings to you and your family

    echo says:

    the story remind me of the staying in fedex,although i am not one member of this family ,i am gratitude for all the experience i have been through .

    wish fedex will be more stronger and thank you all the guys who care about me on work and life , no matter where i go ,i always will be the one with passion and love ….

    best wishes ….

    Barri Zehner says:

    I’m an Oncology nurse in the suburbs of Atlanta, and I just so happened to be on the FedEx website arranging a pickup when I saw this story. Between the painting that sold for $4,000 and the plane named Allie – – – I just couldn’t help but shed a happy tear or two over this story. it just goes to show that even when you feel as if you’re the only one in your awful situation, there are others out there with your back, and who truly care. You are in my prayers for continued success on this battle. Thanks for sharing!

    Ravi Manepalli says:

    All the best to you Eric and to your daughter Allie. Relate to you and can appreciate the courage.

    Pray that all in similar situations take courage and reach loftier levels.


    We have children so that we can teach them how to live …. then they turn around and teach us!!

    Carrollea Hubbard says:

    Eric, I enjoyed reading this touching story about Allie, her strength, the love shared, and family faith. The article in the AIr Ops magazine about Operation Purple Eagle was pretty special. Another good example of how FedEx supports family and organizations that care about families.

    Afsana says:

    hey Eric ..I am afsana parvin from FEDEX INDIA (Delhi).My eyes were full of tears after reading your block and your Allie became my idol. Love her spirit and your strong support towards her. Ask her to smile a lot…With lots of love to her and tight hug form myside

    Gwen Rogers says:


    Gwen Rogers says:


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