Photo of former Parkersburg resident, dying granddaughter goes viral

Photo Provided Sean Peterson, right, sits next to his granddaughter, Braylynn Lawhon, 5, in her room at the Sacred Heart Hospital of Pensacola, Fla. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor in December and Peterson has ALS, confined to a wheelchair and unable to talk. The photo, posted Jan. 7 by his daughter, Ally Parker, has received international attention.

PARKERSBURG — A photo of a former Parkersburg man with a debilitating neurological disease sitting next to his dying granddaughter has received global attention.

Ally Parker on Jan. 7 posted on Facebook the photo of her distraught father Sean Peterson sitting in the hospital room alongside her daughter, his granddaughter, Braylynn Lawhon, 5, who suffers from a brain tumor.

Peterson has ALS and can no longer speak, but the photo of him sobbing speaks volumes.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Tami Hammel of Parkersburg, Peterson’s older sister.

Braylynn is in Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Fla. The family lives in Pensacola.

The photograph, which Parker posted to show the devastating impact of cancer, has been shared numerous times and the story has been picked up by USA Today, People, Fox News and news outlets in the United Kingdom, among others.

“Both of my heroes, gone, within the same year,” Parker posted Jan. 9 on Facebook. “How could this happen to us? What did any of us do to deserve THIS?”

In December, Braylynn was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a brain cancer with no survival rate. She went into the hospital the first week of January.

Peterson is a 1987 graduate of Parkersburg High School where he ran cross country. He lives in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

He served in the Air Force from 1987 to 1996 and in the Gulf War. Peterson retired from the Boeing Co. in 2016 when he was diagnosed with ALS.

Besides a gofundme account, the family also created a Facebook page, Braylynn’s Batallion, where there are posts of prayers, encouragement, support and updates.

“We need the world to know the cruelty of DIPG. The lack of research, treatment and funding for childhood cancer is absolutely appalling,” the Facebook page states. “We will not go away. We need Braylynn’s Battalion of warriors to continue this fight so that someday this will stop happening.”