My Fundraising Page

My Fundraising Page
Apr 06, 2015

This story belongs to every cancer survivor, who has battled through a nightmare to see today for all it's worth. It belongs to three courageous boys, whose young lives were taken by blood cancers. It belongs to the countless other lives affected by these horrific diseases for which I believe a cure will be found. This story also belongs to those of you who believe that it is possible to make a difference.


My story begins in 1997, when my 16-year-old cousin, Lauren, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. At the young age of eight years old, it was difficult for me to understand the true horrors of cancer treatment, not to mention cancer itself. What I did understand was that my family was scared for my cousin’s life. I understood the excitement we shared when Lauren completed her treatment and her hair began to grow back. I understood that this was a true triumph, and that not every family was as lucky as we were.


Our family's strength was soon tested again. On a late July afternoon in 1998, my sisters and I tried to be brave as our parents explained to us that our eleven-year-old brother, Ryan, had been diagnosed with T-cell ALL. My amazing big brother would have to focus his energy on the battle for his life. Our lives haven't been the same since.


Me and Ryan

c. 1996


My family celebrated Ryan’s 13th birthday in September, 1999. After a traditional birthday dinner, we took a short trip into DC, where we saw the very first LLS Light the Night Walk in the area. This walk is an annual evening celebration of fundraising, during which walkers carry illuminated balloons. Ryan had already spent more than a year courageously facing grueling treatment, a relapse, and many life-threatening side effects. Our family had not raised any money for the Walk, nor did we belong to any team; still, when we walked up to the LLS staff to ask if there were any balloons left, the volunteer handed the very last balloon to Ryan.


The Walk, only from Union Station to the Capitol, seemed to drain all of Ryan’s remaining energy…but he kept walking. He firmly held his balloon, and looked straight ahead with the same determined expression I often saw when he was preparing to score a hockey goal. That day, Ryan led me on what became one of our most important adventures. He was amazed that all of these people were out there fighting for him and the other patients.


That powerful evening was Ryan’s last birthday celebration with our family. The following December, days before I turned eleven, my incredible brother was taken from us. He lost his life, I lost my hero, and my parents lost their only son to leukemia. As our own way of continuing Ryan’s fight, my sisters and I created a Light the Night Team called “The Young Hearts.” Over the last fifteen years, The Young Hearts have shown relentless dedication to the mission.


On October 17, 2015, I will participate in my 16th Light The Night Walk in DC.

I will carry a gold balloon, in memory of Ryan.


The Young Hearts were devastated when our inspirational eight-year-old neighbor, who I used to baby-sit, Cameron, lost his battle with leukemia in 2005. I empathized with Cameron’s three younger siblings, who each lost their hero, just as I had lost mine. Soon thereafter, one of our original Young Hearts members, 16-year-old David, relapsed with leukemia after being in remission for nine years. When Ryan was diagnosed in 1998, David was finishing treatment; he reassured Ryan that he would be okay, and provided all of us with hope. After his relapse, David inspired many young people when he bravely spoke about his experience and the importance of raising funds to support research. Though he fearlessly fought leukemia for a second time, we were deeply saddened when our dear friend lost his battle in 2008. Before things had taken a turn for the worst, David graciously donated all of his birthday money to The Young Hearts. David was a true believer in The Young Hearts’ mission, and I will never forget his generosity.


I have witnessed and felt the tragedies of losing a sibling, a friend, and a role model too many times. This is why I believe in this cause, and I am certain a cure cannot come soon enough.


Over fifteen years have passed since we lost Ryan. I miss him every day. We continue to fundraise and walk for those still fighting – with the hope that, one day, no one will have to experience the heartbreak of losing a sibling, a friend, or a hero.


Please help create a brighter future for all of those affected by blood cancers. With your support, we can write a miraculous story. Thank you for your support.


Supporter Comments

    "Thank you Mary for your help to get our cousin a blanket to use during her treatments!"

    Shannon Bailey

    Mon Apr 06 02:33:20 EDT 2015

    "Amazing!!! Good luck!!"

    Stephanie and Andy Eichberg

    Wed Oct 14 11:28:23 EDT 2015

    "Thank you for all you do to help find cures! It will be a great 2016!"

    Young Hearts

    Tue Dec 29 10:07:47 EST 2015

    "For all you do!"


    Wed Dec 30 08:29:35 EST 2015

    "For all you do to remember Ryan!"


    Thu Dec 31 07:50:28 EST 2015

My Fundraising Total

Raised: $5,769.77 | Goal: $1,000.00
577 %

My Team

Team Total: $60,592.95 | Goal: $50,000.00

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My Thanks To

Mary Jane Lee $100.00
Stephanie and Andy Eichb... $100.00
Adam Lee $50.00
Moira Lee $50.00
Lucy and Bob Beck $30.00
Shannon Bailey $30.00
Crown Castle USA Inc.  
Young Hearts