Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Child's Healing Vision on the Disney Channel

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Child's Healing Vision on the Disney Channel

Article excerpt

'The Four Diamonds" When: 7 tonight Where: Disney Channel

CHRIS Millard was a 12-year-old kid whose world consisted of playful sword fighting with friends, learning the constellations and collecting baseball cards.

But all too quickly he entered a world of chemotherapy, radiation treatments and teasing over his newly bald head. Chris, right in the middle of growing up, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer - a tumor growing in his nose that at first threatened his sense of smell, and then life itself.

In the face of this, Chris mined his vivid imagination to create a fictional world - a short story that eventually would help him and those who loved him cope with the ravages of his disease. It all started when his teacher gave him an assignment to write about his summer vacation. Since Chris had spent the summer undergoing cancer treatment, he didn't want to relive those experiences.

Instead, he wrote a life-affirming tale about Squire Millard, one of the forgotten knights of King Arthur's court who overcame obstacles to attain the coveted four diamonds representing courage, wisdom, honesty and strength. And while his alter ego Squire Millard learned valuable lessons on his quest, Chris Millard used the same lessons to fight the battle of his life.

The creative tale Chris wrote - and the real-life story of his ordeal with cancer - touched a chord with producers Joe Byrne and Jeb Rosebrook. They undertook their own arduous five-year journey to bring a movie weaving both stories together to television. "We said, `This story has to be told,' " recalls Byrne.

And like Squire Millard, who had to deal with the evil sorceress Raptenahad to acquire the four diamonds, the producers didn't have it easy. "When we came upon this story, it was divorce-of-the-week time," says Byrne. But finally, the Disney Channel agreed to make "The Four Diamonds" from a script written by Todd Robinson, a friend of Chris' sister Stacia.

Although the telefilm has many heart-wrenching moments, those involved say it's not typical disease-of-the-week fare. …

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