MIRAMAR BEACH — Even after being diagnosed with terminal, stage-three brain cancer, nothing can keep Braxton Raymond down.
"I really think that Braxton's the only one that could be doing this right now," Cyndi Raymond said of her son's positivity despite the challenges he has faced over the past year. "He's unbelievable."
While alternating between Florida for therapy and Minnesota for cancer treatment, the 6-foot-5-inch former basketball player at Williston State College discovered his go-to sub shop while living with his mom in Miramar Beach.
After meatball subs at Jon Smith Subs became a post-therapy tradition on Fridays, the owners decided to give back by making Braxton an honorary customer to receive free subs for life.
"He comes in with a big, huge smile on his face, and if we can give him some joy, it's the least we can do," said Stacy Melvin, co-owner of the sub shop.
She and her husband/co-owner Rod Melvin said their decision wasn't a publicity stunt, but rather them doing something for a customer who touched their hearts.
"I was very surprised," said Braxton, who is 22. "I told them they didn't need to do that because they have a business to run."
His mom added that after hearing the news, he turned to her and said, "Seriously ... do they know how many subs I'm going to eat?"
Cyndi, who said Braxton tackles therapy near the eatery at the Market Shops at Sandestin, shared that his symptoms began around a year ago when he started experiencing tingling sensations throughout his limbs.
After months of unsuccessful trips to doctors and athletic trainers, the all-time leading scorer in basketball for Kasson Mantorville (Minnesota) High School was diagnosed with anaplastic astrocytoma, a rare malignant brain tumor.
However, Cyndi said her family's outlook on the situation is fueled by Braxton's steadfast positivity. She said he tells her "it had to happen to somebody, mom, and I'm the only one that could have handled this."
Looking ahead, she said they are taking things year by year and hope for new medical developments.
"Nothing can get to him and nothing can get him down," Cyndi said. "We've seen him fight this last year, so I'm expecting to see him walk down the isle at his sister's wedding here in three weeks. And he will, I know he will."
To help Braxton during his fight, visit his GoFundMe account at www.gofundme.com/5xpx3rk.