Nearly three million people have viewed a video of dad Kennith Thomas dancing for his toddler son, Kristian. But the New Jersey father says his dance moves were for an audience of one — a way to encourage Kristian as he was being treated for acute megakaryoblastic leukemia (AMKL).
The support Thomas showed his young son paid off: In November, Thomas and his wife, Josilyne, received the news that Kristian, who was diagnosed with AMKL at just 14 months old, was cancer free.
"It was the most glorifying thing you could ever feel," Thomas told TODAY Parents. "When your 1 year old is going through a huge battle, as a parent you want to take their place — you don't want them to have to suffer."
In Thomas' initial viral video, he dances for Kristian to Ciara song "Level Up," while Kristian claps and smiles. (The Thomas' own a dance studio and Josilyne is also a photographer.) Thomas says the video, which was posted in July, was filmed after he learned they would finally be able to take Kristian home from the hospital after staying for more than 30 days for his first round of chemotherapy and treatment.
"He was going home that day," Thomas recalled. "His levels were up and we were going home — it all fell into place, so I put the video out there and it just caught fire."
During the months Kristian was undergoing treatment, Thomas' Instagram account grew from 5,000 followers to more than 70,000. Ciara herself took notice of the family's story and reached out to Josilyne Thomas about surprising Kennith and Kristian.
"Today I had one of the best times in life," the singer tweeted after her visit with the family at their dance studio. "I got to meet the rock star Kristian... he's surrounded by an abundance of love."
Ciara isn't the only celebrity who has shown support for Kristian during his treatment. Rapper Common shared Thomas' initial video on Twitter, calling it "beautiful," and Christopher Reid of Kid 'N Play sent his congratulations when Thomas announced that Kristian's cancer was gone.
Thomas says all celebrity support aside, his family has loved connecting with other families who are facing a cancer diagnosis or other challenging situations.
"We've been given the opportunity to speak life into people and motivate others to never give up and continue the fight no matter what they're facing," said Thomas, explaining that he and his wife hope to use their social media platform to bring awareness to pediatric cancer and advocate for other hurting families.