Former Mason Elementary student passes away after long battle with cancer

A former Freemason student who captured the hearts of the community died Friday at the age of 13. Reef Carneson died after a long battle with cancer, according to a post on his family’s “Rock It 4 Reef” Facebook page. The Carneson family, originally from South Africa, moved to the Cincinnati area in 2015 for specialized treatment at the children’s hospital. The family moved to the UK earlier this year for additional medical treatment. Reef was a lifelong fighter. In a 2015 interview with WLWT, Reef’s parents said he was first diagnosed with leukemia when he was just 5 months old. He later battled GVHD, or graft-versus-host disease, and squamous cell carcinoma. Reef attended Mason Schools from 1st to 4th grade. Last year he was named Kiwanis Student of the Year for Mason Elementary. “Reef was such an incredible kid,” said Tracey Carson, Mason Schools public information officer. “We are grateful that we were able to learn from this very special Comet Kid.” Reef quickly brought a bright light to the Mason community, as evidenced by the drive-by parade in his honor last year. His family told WLWT in 2020 that Reef had the best years of his life in Cincinnati. Reef also got the rock star treatment in 2017 by meeting Pharrell Williams and hanging out on stage. “He’s an amazing soul,” said Reef’s mother, Lydia Carneson. “He really touches everyone who meets him.” The family wrote that they are grateful for the outpouring of support following Reef’s passing and that they are working to move forward. Mason City Schools has also made their crisis team available to Reef’s former classmates who may need help. support at this time. If the school asks if you or your child needs support, please contact Mental Wellness Director Nicole Pfirman at pfirmann@masonohioschools.com.

A former Freemason student who captured the hearts of the community died Friday at the age of 13.

Reef Carneson died after a long battle with cancer, according to a post on his family’s “Rock It 4 Reef” Facebook page.

Originally from South Africa, the Carneson family moved to the Cincinnati area in 2015 for specialized treatment at the children’s hospital. The family moved to the UK earlier this year for additional medical treatment.

Reef was a lifelong fighter. In a 2015 interview with WLWT, Reef’s parents said he was first diagnosed with leukemia when he was just 5 months old. He later battled GVHD, or graft-versus-host disease, and squamous cell carcinoma.

Reef attended Mason Schools from 1st grade to 4th grade. Last year he was named Kiwanis Student of the Year for Mason Elementary.

“Reef was such an incredible kid,” said Mason Schools Public Information Officer Tracey Carson. “We are grateful that we were able to learn from this very special Comet Kid.”

Reef quickly brought a bright light to the Mason community, as evidenced by last year’s drive-by parade in his honor. His family told WLWT in 2020 that Reef had the best years of his life in Cincinnati.

Reef also got the rock-star treatment in 2017, meeting and hanging out onstage with Pharrell Williams.

“He’s an amazing soul,” said Reef’s mother, Lydia Carneson. “He really touches everyone who meets him.”

The family wrote that they are grateful for the outpouring of support following Reef’s passing and that they are working to move forward.

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Mason City Schools have also made their crisis team available to Reef’s former classmates who may need support at this time. If the school asks if you or your child needs support, please contact Mental Wellness Director Nicole Pfirman at pfirmann@masonohioschools.com.

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