Top of the Morning, Jan. 18, 2024

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On Monday, Ty Andracke and his family returned home where a sign in their front yard told of the good news: "No more chemo."

Hours before at St. Jude Research Children's Hospital's Peoria Affiliate Clinic, the spunky 8-year-old third-grader celebrated the end of his cancer treatments by ringing the bell — "not once but twice," said his dad, Eric, a teacher at Mahomet-Seymour High School. "The second time just for fun." To complement the sweet sound, his care team and family sang and tossed confetti.

After 993 days of treatment in Memphis and Peoria, Ty is cancer free. The family marked the stretch run by carrying a countdown sign to basketball games, treatment days "and grandma and grandpa's house," said Eric.

Diagnosed with leukemia in April 2021, Ty's progress has been cheered by many in and around Mahomet. That includes Illinois State's men's basketball program, of which he became an official member through Team Impact, joining the Redbirds for practices, games and off-court activities.

Over Christmas break, the team accompanied coach Ryan Pedon to the Andrackes' house in Bloomington for dinner and games. Earlier in December, several ISU players — including former St. Joseph-Ogden star and N-G Player of the Year Ty Pence — attended Ty's third-grade basketball game.

"The team has been extremely welcoming to Ty and our entire family," Eric said. "Ty's love of fishing and all sports — especially basketball — has kept him grounded during his treatments."

He's playing travel basketball for the first time and is looking forward to baseball season when the weather warms.

"The amount of support we've gotten from friends, co-workers, neighbors, family, St. Jude families, our community and all of Ty's medical team has been amazing," Eric said. "There is no way we could have gotten through this long journey on our own. People are so good. It has taken a village."