Teen fighting cancer achieving high-tech dream

FOX 35 News at 5 p.m.

- A lot of people are coming together right now to help a teenager who is fighting cancer in a local hospital. It's not just his family or doctors and nurses either. Complete strangers are giving their all to help him accomplish his high-tech dream. 

Joshua Solomon looks forward to his weekly meeting with University of Central Florida researcher, Dr. Megan Nickels, where she uses robots to engage Josh and keep his mind sharp as he battles cancer at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children

"Knowing that my child is going through what he's going through... how do I get up and go through the day, knowing he could possibly die?" asked mom Dawn Solomon, as she fought back tears. 

It's a tough situation and treatments take a toll on the 15-year-old boy.  Child specialist Teresa Augelli wanted to help with that. She figured out that Josh was a video gamer, so she came up with the idea to have him create his own video game. "As soon as I said, 'We're gonna create a video game,' he smiled, was super excited... ready to go!" she explained. 

Josh's idea was to design a video game about fighting cancer.  Augelli got Dr. Nickels on board and then reached out to three UCF graduate students who create video games, Tushar Despand, Brigadesh Chandra and Hari Ramakishnan.  

Ramakishnan's first reaction was, "How can you make a game about cancer? Don't you think that's a bit insensitive?" But he was more receptive after discussing the idea with Josh, so they got to work. "You have like 'cancer soldiers' building fortresses inside the human body. The map... the map would be the human body," he said.  

The player uses cancer medicines to fight back. "Those medicines kind of come in and ... take form like soldiers and start fighting with guns," explained Ramakishnan.  

"Being able to create this video game is a way for him to kind of mimic some of these experiences that he as well as other patients like him have been through," said Augelli.

Those close to Josh say the game is bright spot in his life right now.  "He's happy about it. He wants to continue with it and he wants everybody to know what he's going through, or what these children are going through," said Dawn.  This is gonna help 'em get through, I hope."

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