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Relay for Life Dedicated to Kara

Hazel+%28left%29%2C+Ayene+%28middle%29%2C+and+Katie+%28right%29+take+part+in+the+Relay+for+Life.+%0APhoto+Source%3A+Diana+R.
Hazel (left), Ayene (middle), and Katie (right) take part in the Relay for Life. 
Photo Source: Diana R.

Hazel (left), Ayene (middle), and Katie (right) take part in the Relay for Life. Photo Source: Diana R.

Hazel (left), Ayene (middle), and Katie (right) take part in the Relay for Life. Photo Source: Diana R.

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Relay for Life is a community-based fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. The relays are staffed and coordinated by volunteers in over 5,200 communities and 27 countries. Relay for Life encouraged volunteers to give their time and effort to take action against cancer.

During the events, team members walk around a track to fundraise. Each team sets up their own campsite and promotes the fundraising efforts by collecting donations. A typical relay is started off with an opening ceremony, followed by survivor laps, caregiver laps, and laps including the whole team. Throughout the event, team members walk around the track to symbolize the ongoing battle against cancer. Relays have games and activities to give members a better understanding about the American Cancer Society. Lastly, the relays are wrapped up with closing ceremonies, which recognize volunteers behind the event and the hard working community.

This year, our community’s relay was held at Hawthorne High School. HMSA Key Club dedicated our relay to Ayene C.’s niece, Kara Evan Khamo. At the young age of four, Kara Evan Khamo was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma. On April 25, 2017, Kara’s heart stopped as a result of a severe brain bleed and she now rests in peace. Support and honor for Kara were shown by the colors purple and gold. HMSA Key Club carried on Kara’s legacy by spreading awareness for Neuroblastoma. Juniors Hazel C. and Ayene C. also gave a speech to honor Kara Evan Khamo and the battle she fought against Neuroblastoma (Ayene’s speech is attached below).

Although Relay for Life only happens once a year in our community, the American Cancer Society is open for donations. Donations are accepted at any time on the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life website (click here) for anyone who would like to contribute to the fight against cancer. Along with donations, the American Cancer Society has tons of other ways to promote and raise awareness of the battle against cancer including raising your own fundraiser on their website.

 

Ayene Cruz’s Speech at Relay for Life:
“Hi, my name is Ayene Mitzi Cruz; I am a caregiver and the aunt of the beautiful and late Kara Evan Khamo. Kara was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma at the age of 3 years old, on January 2 2016. 

FACTS: 

1. Neuroblastoma is the Cancer of adrenal glands.

2. It’s most common in infants and children. 

3. About 600 children are diagnosed with Neuroblastoma a year. 

4. Every 16 hours, a child with Neuroblastoma dies. 

5. There is no cure for relapsed cancer. 

6. In nearly 70% of children that are diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, the cancer has already spread, causing them to have a less than 30% chance of survival. 

7. Every day 46 children are diagnosed with cancer. 

8. Childhood cancer research is underfunded; it only receives 4% of funding. 

9. Childhood cancer is the #1 killer disease in children. 

Kara spent 190 nights in the hospital, 58 days of chemotherapy, 78 days of radiation, 97 days in isolation, received 143 pokes, 2 stem cell transplants, 4 general surgeries, 9 central line procedures, 5 bone marrow procedures, 12 emergency room visits, and 52 days of IV feeding. 

Unfortunately, Kara lost her battle with cancer on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 1:33PM at the age of 5 years old. She suffered from an inoperable brain hemorrhage. But we will not let her loss be in vain. 

I learned a lot from Kara, she taught me more lessons than I could’ve taught her. 

Lesson #1: Love – Kara taught me how to love unconditionally, whether she met you a year ago or five minutes ago her heart was filled with love for you. Her love was timeless and pure and had no judgement. 

Lesson #2: Courage – There’s a reason why our team is called ‘BeKARAgeous,’ even at her age she was so brave and so courageous, she faced all the tests and challenges head on. Even when she was scared she held OUR hands, comforting US. She faced her fears knowing she’ll be okay in the end. 

Lesson #3: Strength and Perseverance – Her strength and light guided her and us all through this rough journey. Even when she felt weak and was in pain, she always pulled through with a smile on her face. Even in the hospital, when her body ached, she still greeted us with a whole heart and light smile. 

Lesson #4: Faith – I don’t know who or what you may all believe in, but Kara believed in God. Her understanding of our Christian faith was unfathomable, she loved and knew more than expected. She prayed when she was in pain, knowing the Lord would relieve her. Kara is the reason why our family is closer to God. She brought us to believe and to fulfill a spiritual purpose. 

Lesson #5: Beauty – As you can see, my head is colorfully hairless. I shaved my hair with her and remained bald until her hair began to grow. Everytime I felt a bit insecure, she’ll always tell me “Auntie you’re so beautiful and I love you.” Her confidence and beauty shined as bright as her head. She always said she and everyone is beautiful–and she was definitely right about that. She looked at you with no judgement, in her eyes you are beautiful. And Kara’s not blind. 

Lesson #6: Living – Even in the short amount of life she had, she lived. She did more than most, she met her heroes, featured in documentaries, and impacted lives. She didn’t exist in the world, she fought and lived. She lived adventurously. 

Kara left a lasting legacy with all of us here. Her loving heart, kindness, and silliness will always be remembered. The most important lesson I learned is to keep her legacy going. She fought for her life so that we could fight for a cure. Kara was supposed to join a clinical trial that will help other children with Neuroblastoma. She fought and lost to save others. Like her mother said, “Kara is too perfect for this world, so the Lord took her home.” We NEED to raise awareness so we can get MORE than 4% so we can SAVE MORE lives. We lost a perfect angel so we could work towards a perfect world. Kara’s legacy must be continued. We MUST live like Kara, fight like Kara, and live KARAgeously. Like the beautiful Kara Evan Khamo said herself, ‘being strong means to be brave and never give up. I am strong, because I am brave and NEVER gave up.’ Thank you. “

"I am strong because I am brave and I never gave up." -Kara Photo Source: Diana R.

 

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Relay for Life Dedicated to Kara