After Three Battles with Cancer— 7-Year-Old Survivor Celebrates by ‘Working’ at the Coffee Shop That Raised Money for Him

Liam and Diego

Liam Sanborn poses with Diego, the mascot for GRACE Coffee Co. in Madison. Liam recently "worked" a shift at GRACE to show his appreciation for their support of his multiple battles with cancer. (Photo submitted)

By Christina Lorey

July 7, 2022

GRACE Coffee Co. collected more than $10,000 to help families of kids like Liam Sanborn, who have to fight for their lives at a young age.

Liam Sanborn has already heard the words “You have cancer” three times. And he’s just 7 years old. 

The dog-loving little boy was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 11 months old. He and his doctors had fought their way to remission when doctors discovered a super-rare second form of cancer: chronic myeloid leukemia, typically only found in adults. Liam beat that, too.

Then, in May 2021, he was diagnosed with a third form of cancer—ambiguous lineage leukemia—and acute myeloid leukemia a month later. Liam would need a bone marrow transplant to survive this third battle.

Fast forward 13 months. Liam is back to petting dogs, humming songs, and skipping around like other kids his age. He received the bone marrow transplant he needed in October and is now giving back to the business and community that helped him get healthy.

Last fall, GRACE Coffee Co., a growing chain based in Madison, held a fundraiser and donated $2 from every pastry and coffee sold to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) in support of Liam.

They raised more than $10,000.

Now, Liam is “paying” them back: mopping floors, making drinks, working the drive-thru, and hanging out with GRACE’s real-life mascot, a dog named Diego.

“Before Liam’s bone marrow transplant, his wish was to go work with Diego,” GRACE co-owner Nicki Bloomer told UpNorthNews. “He had the time of his life. I had tears just watching how happy he was.” 

“When Liam got here, he looked at his mom and said, ‘Can’t you go shopping or something?’” Nicki added with a laugh, “He’s already asking to come back and ‘work’ again.” 

Liam’s family is also asking people across Wisconsin to continue  “paying it forward” by supporting the organization that helped save their son’s life. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society funds research to advance lifesaving treatments for people living with blood cancer and gives patients like Liam and their families hope, education, and support—both financial & emotional.

Click here to learn more about LLS Upper Plains or to make a donation today.

And consider signing up to become a bone marrow donor. It’s what saved Liam’s life and takes less than 10 minutes. Click here for more information.


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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