2016: Maddy Brandl and her family. At the time we started planning the first little a triathlon, Maddy Brandl was a 5th grader from Eagle River who was recently placed on hospice care. You can read more about Maddy or donate to her directly here: https://www.gofundme.com/7s5s6n7s
Maddy passed away in the spring of 2016. Here is her obituary. Annually, the Brandl's and many of Maddy's support crew hold Maddy's Run. It is held at ERHS and also raises money for kids going through cancer treatment.
In our inaugural year, we were able to raise over $12,000 for the Brandl's.
2017: Natilynn Matos and her family. Natilynn was diagnosed with leukemia July 10, 2016. She turned 4 (in the hospital) on Sept 22. She will receive chemotherapy for about 2 1/2 years. The 5 year survival rate for her cancer is anywhere from 80-95%. Before she got sick you could find her outside climbing trees in a princess dress or zooming around the sidewalk on her scooter. She rarely complains about a thing aside from her tummy being sick or her legs hurting her. There are many times her family actually gains their strength from her; she is simply amazing. She has 3 brothers and 6 sisters, 5 of them are still at home with her. One of them is always by her side loving on her or making sure she doesn't need anything. Since she has been sick she spends most of her time on the couch. When she has the energy she is playing with play doh or playing barbies with her sisters.
Natilynn's facebook page or https://www.facebook.com/NatilynnValentina/
We were proud to be able to write a check to Natilynn and her family for $8000.
2018: Jazee Holloway and her family. Jazee’ Holloway is a 7-year old Anchorage resident. She has an amazing spirit, and greets everyone she meets with a smile and hug. She loves and lives her life to the fullest as best as a 7-year old can. She regularly attends church, and helps the younger kids in her bible study group and in Sunday School. She loves her barbies, singing, dancing baking, and can eat a whole container of strawberries if you let her. She is a wonderful and helpful daughter, who sees the positive in all situations, and is wise beyond her years. Jazee’ also loves school. In fact if you ask her what she loves about school, she will say what she always says – “learning”. Above all, Jazee’ is also the very proud “big-sister” of her 6-year old brother Jahlon.
Jazee’ spent the entire summer preparing her and her brother for the school year at her new school. But, two days into the school year, she was diagnosed with a pineoblastoma - Wednesday, August 23, 2017 (two days after beginning 2nd grade). Pineoblastoma is very aggressive, and extremely rare, accounting for less than 1% of all primary brain tumors. Jazee’s brain tumor unbeknownst to us, developed within months and weeks, and not years.
Although Jazee’ has a large support of family and friends in Anchorage, treatment for pineoblastoma is also rare, and therefore was unavailable at her local hospital.
On August 29, 2017, Jazee’s care was transferred to Seattle. She had successful brain surgery on September 6, 2017 to remove a very large brain tumor. However, neurosurgeons were unable to remove all the tumor, and had to rely instead on proton therapy to shrink the tumor.
While Jazee’s tumor responded beautifully to radiation, her body is experienced right side weakness, a side effect of surgery. Her days started early for therapy (physical, rehabilitative, and speech) and were long, yet she approached each day with a smile. After therapy was completed, she was off to radiation, and Friday was reserved for chemotherapy.
And as so many children experienced, Jazee’s long, beautiful hair began to fall out in October, she made the decision and asked her Mom to cut her hair completely off. This was just one more testament of her amazing confidence, courage, kindness, and love for herself and others throughout her journey with, or without hair.
Jazee’ was excited to finally return to Anchorage on November 4, 2017. She is back in school, and enjoys being around her classmates and teachers. On her 1st day back, she asked if the classmates wanted to see her head, and she showed them her head without fear, and explained her medical situation, and they seemed just fine with it all – awesome kids! Although she loves recess, she is spends them mostly inside due to the cold temperatures and icy conditions. She is continuing with her therapies, and is thriving in all of them. No matter what is asked of her, she always has the “I can do it mommy” attitude (becoming more independent).
Jazee’ will have her 1st post-radiation MRI on Dec 11, 2017. We are approaching that day like any other day – another blessed day! Jazee’s is looking beyond that date, and focusing on Christmas with family and friends. And of no surprise to her family, she has requested that she and her brother donate their old, newer-looking toys and deliver them to a local shelter for Christmas gifts. And therefore, we look forward to helping them brighten the faces of those kids, who are often forgotten.
Chemotherapy is scheduled to restart on Dec 26, 2017, followed by 4-5 days in a local hospital. The results of the MRI will provide us with the duration of chemotherapy, and whether it will be in Anchorage or Seattle.