St. Baldrick's Foundation Announces Five 2019 Ambassadors
Kids and their families will raise awareness of the critical need to advance childhood cancer research
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Representing the more than 300,000 kids diagnosed with cancer each year worldwide, the St. Baldrick's Foundation has chosen its five 2019 Ambassadors. Uniting under the same cause – to find better treatments and cures for childhood cancers – St. Baldrick's Ambassadors and their families will act as spokespeople for the Foundation in 2019, attend St. Baldrick's events and fundraisers and provide the public with an in depth look into the world of childhood cancer.
St. Baldrick's Ambassadors serve as a reminder that childhood cancers don't discriminate and that one in five kids diagnosed in the U.S. will not survive. They represent a variety of ages, disease types, geographic locations and stages of their journey with cancer.
This year's five Ambassadors are:
Aiden Bonner, forever 7, from Mobile, Ala., enjoyed playing Legos, going to school and Cub Scouts, eating pizza and as a huge Star Wars fan insisted on being called "Jedi Aiden." He was only 5 years old when, after months of headaches and bouts of stumbling, an MRI led to the diagnosis of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). Aiden endured 30 rounds of radiation, a clinical trial, high doses of steroids and other drugs to combat his side effects. Just like the intergalactic guardians in the movie, the "force was strong" with Aiden as he stood up against cancer with courage, fortitude and the best smile ever. His family continues to honor his legacy through their work with the St. Baldrick's Foundation.
Arianna Lewis, 4, from Marlton, N.J., was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) when she was just over a year old. She spent 409 days in the hospital and received a bone marrow transplant. While the bone marrow transplant was successful, and Arianna is now cancer free, she remains in treatment for graft vs. host disease (GVHD) in her gut, skin, lungs and liver, and also suffers from other late effects from her treatment. Even through all this, Arianna has learned to make the most of each day. She loves the sausage and vanilla milkshakes at the hospital cafeteria and is known for riding a pink toy car through the hallways - always with a smile on her face, of course.
Sullivan Butler, 12, from League City, Texas, enjoys playing the piano and outdoor activities like camping, swimming and competing in triathlons. What started as back pain for this active boy, turned into a devastating diagnosis of metastatic medulloblastoma and an emergency brain surgery. After undergoing an intense treatment protocol, Sullivan was left with many side effects including problems with his speech, emotional instability and the inability to stand up or walk. Working with a physical therapist, Sullivan dedicated himself to his stretches and exercises until one day when he was able to stand up on his own. He graduated from wheelchair to walker to cane, and now gets around like other kids his age. He is getting used to his new "normal" and back to the things he enjoys doing, while also advocating on behalf of kids with cancer.
Gabby Galarneau, 14, from Stevenson Ranch, Calif., loves swimming, camping, going to the beach and visiting Disneyland. When she was in eighth grade her life completely changed when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Her treatment included limb salvage surgery on her left leg to remove a tumor, her knee and six inches of her femur. Although she is now cancer free, Gabby is having to learn to walk again and dealing with other late effects, like hearing loss. Gabby says getting cancer gave her a new perspective on life and is looking forward to going back to school and one day becoming a veterinarian.
Brooke Vittimberga, 23, from Moraga, Calif., is a sushi devotee, published writer, pre-med student at Stanford and unapologetic fan of reality TV. As a sophomore in college, she was diagnosed with high-risk acute myeloid leukemia (AML). She began chemotherapy and was eventually able to get into remission and receive a bone marrow transplant. Since her transplant, Brooke has suffered acute and chronic GVHD in her gut, skin, eyes, liver and mouth. While she still deals with the impact of GVHD, Brooke is also immune compromised, infertile and has permanent alopecia. As a young adult cancer survivor, she is now passionate about improving quality of life for other survivors and raising funds for research focused on young adult survivorship and chronic GVHD through her St. Baldrick's Hero Fund.
About St. Baldrick's Foundation
As the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, the St. Baldrick's Foundation is leading the charge to take childhood back from cancer. St. Baldrick's funds some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts who are working to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers. Kids need treatments as unique as they are – and that starts with funding research just for them. Join us at StBaldricks.org to help support the best childhood cancer research, no matter where it takes place.
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SOURCE St. Baldrick's Foundation