2021 Ambassadors

Patient Ambassadors of the Parkway Run & Walk have a big job to do. It’s up to them to represent the thousands of children diagnosed with pediatric cancers each year. As they share their stories, they help the world understand what childhood cancer takes away and why it’s worth supporting institutions like Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.


Autumn’s Story

ErinAutumn loves to be a part of everything and doesn’t like to miss anything, but cancer got in the way of her doing some of her favorite activities, including the ballet she loves and hopes to pursue professionally. The disease was discovered after she underwent surgery to remove a small lump on her back that turned out to be malignant. This outgoing 9-year-old completed her 14 rounds of chemotherapy in March. When Autumn and her family look back on the past year, they know Jesus is working through Autumn’s life and chose this journey to strengthen their faith.

Ayush’s Story

ErinAyush was inpatient at CHOP on his seventh birthday, just a few days after being diagnosed with a fast-growing cancer called Burkitt lymphoma. When the nurses threw a party in the morning, he jokingly told them he wasn’t technically 7 until 5:50 p.m. “So they repeated the entire celebration at exactly that time!” says his mother, Reshama. Ayush has studied up on cancer and has marveled at the number of other kids with the disease. When he grows up, he hopes to find easier treatments, including better-tasting medications and a way to draw blood that doesn’t hurt!

Erin’s Story

ErinWhen Erin, 8, was first diagnosed with leukemia, “She was almost unrecognizable to me,” says her mother, Adrienne. “Her appearance and personality changed overnight.” But the CHOP care team promised that the daughter Adrienne knew would return — and sure enough, Erin’s big personality came shining through again: “She’s outgoing, wise beyond her years, demanding, funny and self-proclaimed ‘everyone’s favorite’!” says Adrienne. Now that Erin is near the end of her treatment, she’s found a mission: to support and inspire others through an initiative she calls “Erin’s Mirror.”

Evan’s Story

EvanWhen Evan, 7, was hospitalized at CHOP after being diagnosed with leukemia, he missed his puppy, Paws, terribly. He also hated the taste of his liquid medicines. A child life specialist helped solve both problems: Using individual cake-decorating sprinkles and then mini M&M’s, she taught him how to swallow pills, a skill that helped him be able to go home. Nine months later, he began the maintenance phase of chemotherapy, and now he’s on the swim team, has joined a Cub Scout troop, and enjoys playing baseball and soccer.

Gabriel’s Story

GabrielWhen Gabriel, 17, was training for his freshman year of high school soccer, he began experiencing shortness of breath and chest pain. This led to an alarming diagnosis: Hodgkin lymphoma. During his treatment, Gabriel wanted to continue to play soccer as much as possible, so his medical team and the child life staff came up with a way to give his chemotherapy so he could still participate in the sport. Gabriel so enjoyed music therapy at CHOP, he hopes to make it his career.

Ian’s Story

IanOne day two years ago, out of nowhere, Ian suddenly had a bruises all over his body. The cause? A high-risk leukemia. “As a parent, the support that was given to us at the time of diagnosis was vital to our mental survival and outlook,” says his mother, Cara. While he was inpatient at CHOP undergoing intense chemotherapy, “Ian loved going to the playroom, even when he could barely walk,” says Cara. Now 4, he receives monthly maintenance treatments at CHOP’s Specialty Care & Surgery Center in Voorhees, N.J. “He thinks he’s the mayor of the Voorhees clinic,” Cara says with a laugh.

Jacob’s Story

JacobWhen Jacob was 11, he began having intermittent pain in his right leg that worsened over a few months. When the pain got so bad one night it woke him up, his mothers, Cinde and Carly, brought him to CHOP, where they were shocked to learn that Jacob had a large tumor in his femur. After a year of chemotherapy and surgery to try to save his leg, Jacob had an above-knee amputation. Now 13, he’s walking again, with a goal to run up the Art Museum steps. He’s found a passion for helping other children diagnosed with cancer, and his dream is to become a CHOP oncologist.

Journey’s Story

JourneyAfter Somer and Anthony noticed an unusual glow in their daughter Journey’s eye, the diagnosis was shocking: Journey had cancer in both retinas. The family was living in Germany because Anthony, a member of the military, was stationed there. They contacted several U.S. pediatric cancer programs but couldn’t get complete answers — until they talked to CHOP. “They assisted us with everything from my initial call until we arrived stateside a few days later,” says Somer. Although Journey had one eye removed, she has remained brave, sassy, funny, resilient and determined. Soon turning 4, she just learned how to ride her bike: “She is super excited to show everyone!” reports Somer.

Sloane’s Story

SloaneIt was only a few tiny purple spots on Sloane’s arms and legs that signaled to her parents, Lyndsay and Jon, that something might be wrong. Sloane’s pediatrician sent them to CHOP, and it turned out that the spots were the only symptom of the little girl’s leukemia. Faced with this overwhelming diagnosis, Lyndsay and Jon chose CHOP, located only a mile from their home, so Sloane could get the best care with the least disruption in her life. The sweet, caring, very outgoing 3-year-old has made CHOP her second home and family. Not only does she look forward to going to clinic, she’s sad when it’s time to leave.

Vincent’s Story

VincentThree-year-old Vincent has been in treatment at CHOP’s Cancer Center nearly his entire life, after an MRI when he was 4 months old revealed he had two brain tumors. His treatment has included five brain surgeries, a stem cell transplant, multiple types of chemotherapy and an experimental therapy called a checkpoint inhibitor. “He’s a joyous little boy with incredible determination,” says his mother, Natalie. “He is silly and likes to laugh.” He loves Sesame Street, adores his 10-year-old sister, Mina, and is working hard to learn to walk.

 

  • 2020 Ambassadors 

    Aavi’s Story

    AaviAfter Aavi, 2, was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, there was a long list of what he missed doing: going to play groups, his cousins’ birthday parties, swimming lessons and temple, just to name a few. Over a 10-month period, he was admitted to CHOP multiple times, sometimes for as long as 14 days. But this toddler, who his mother, Bipashna, describes as playful, sweet, a quick learner, thoughtful and talkative, found the upside to being at CHOP: “He loves the playroom,” says Bipashna. “To find him, the nurses would just have to go to the playroom. He was never in his room!”

    Brooke’s Story

    BrookeAll the running Brooke did while playing basketball and lacrosse surely was the cause of her ankle pain. But a CHOP orthopaedist wasn’t so sure and ordered blood work. Three hours later, Brooke, then 10, and her mom, Lisa, were talking to a CHOP oncologist. Brooke underwent two-and-a-half years of treatment for her acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She kept up with schoolwork through video chats and homeschooling, while her classmates sent cards and photos. Now 15, Brooke is determined to work at CHOP. “Every single nurse, doctor, housekeeper, administrator and cafeteria staff plays a part of your everyday life,” says Lisa. “We cannot say enough wonderful things about everyone.”

    Clara’s Story

    ClaraAfter being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, Clara went through five rounds of chemotherapy, each requiring her to stay at CHOP for more than a month. “She said her treatment was like a hard job, one where she wasn’t allowed to go home,” says her mother, Kristen. To pass the time, Clara began making slime. Then the distraction turned into a vocation: She started a slime business called Slimes of Courage, raising $10,000, all donated to CHOP. While committed to helping fight pediatric cancer, Clara, now 13, has been happy to move on — especially because it involved rejoining the roller derby team that she loves.

    David’s Story

    DavidWhen Patrick suggested to Rachel that he take their son David, 8, to an ER because of increasingly bad stomach pains, cancer was the furthest thing from their minds. But the stomachache turned out to be a grapefruit-sized tumor in his liver. They went straight to CHOP. As David faced chemotherapy and surgery, he became quite a self-advocate. “He just didn’t want surprises, and maintaining his trust was everything,” Rachel says. “We worked with his CHOP team to explain each step in advance, so he had time to process and accept.” With David being a huge Marvel comics fan, the tag line for his treatment was “Avengers, assemble!” Thinking about their son’s resilience, his parents say with awe, “He really is a superhero!”

    Lexi’s Story

    LexiAfter Lexi, 13, was diagnosed with lymphoma, she underwent two-and-a-half years of chemotherapy and radiation. She had a very rough journey, including vision loss and a relapse. But Lexi had something else: the determination of a superhero. “She said she was going to fight just like Wonder Woman,” says her mother, Janine, who calls her daughter “awesome.” Lexi and her family are constantly figuring out ways for her to navigate her home and school environments. It’s an ongoing process, says Janine, but one that a superhero spirit can conquer.

    Alumni Ambassador

    Ayana’s Story

    AyanaIn 2014, a leg cramp led to the unexpected news that Ayana had neuroblastoma, a tumor of nerve tissue. Ayana was an Ambassador for the 2015 Parkway Run & Walk, and now, done with treatment since January 2018, she returns as an Alumni Ambassador. She continues to get scans at CHOP every six months and monitored for long-term side effects, but mostly she enjoys riding her new bike and playing water sports in the pool. “I’m going to seventh grade and I’ve made honors every semester,” she reports. “I am four years in remission and looking forward to celebrating my five-year anniversary on July 1, 2021, when I can actually say, ‘I am cancer free!’”

    Lily’s Story

    LilyLily, 11, has a joyful personality. Her mother, Ashleigh, also describes her as energetic, motivated and optimistic. After Lily was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma — a tumor of nerve tissue that can occur in many areas of the body — all those qualities came shining through. Although she can’t play the soccer, lacrosse and basketball she loves, Lily has another interest that cancer can’t interrupt: She plays the saxophone. For her virtual fifth-grade graduation ceremony, she got to show off her skills with a rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance.” It was a moment when that joyful personality of hers could take center stage.

    Naomi’s Story

    NaomiNaomi enjoys joking around: She meows at one of her favorite CHOP nurses who doesn’t like cats. After Naomi was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, those nurses helped guide her through a 18-month journey that included numerous blood transfusions, intravenous and oral chemotherapy, a stay in the pediatric intensive care unit, and a severe intestinal inflammation that has a 50% mortality rate. Although she has understandably developed some pronounced anxiety and an intense dislike of anything attached to her skin, overall this resilient 5-year-old has maintained her friendly personality, sharp sense of humor, love of ballet, and strong bonds with her friends and family.

    Rosie’s Story

    RosieThe first sign that something was wrong with Rosie came in July 2019: Her head was turned a bit to the right. This was the beginning of a harrowing journey that involved brain surgery before Rosie even turned 1 year old. Despite intensive chemotherapy for her rare and fast-growing brain tumor, the 22-month-old remains happy and spunky. “I feel like no words actually do her enough justice,” says her mother, Julia. The family is endlessly grateful for their CHOP team. “Every time I left Rosie for a surgery, a scan or radiation, the nurses said, ‘We will take good care of her,’” says Julia. “And that made all the difference to me.”

    Tommy’s Story

    TommyFrom no symptoms to cancer treatment in a matter of days — that’s what 2-year-old Tommy experienced. At his 15-month well visit, Tommy’s pediatrician felt hardness in his belly. Within a few days, Tommy was at CHOP with a diagnosis of hepatoblastoma, a rare liver tumor that primarily affects children younger than 5. When a member of his care team told his parents, Jessica and Joseph, that kids are resilient and have a way of fighting cancer that adults do not, “I couldn’t really understand how a 15-month-old would know how to fight,” says Jessica. And then they witnessed it: “He was up and running just eight days after major surgery!”

  • 2019 Ambassadors 
    Abbie 

    Abbie

    Learning she has cancer was tough for Abbie, but she and her family have received incredible support at CHOP.

     

    Addison 

    Addison

    Addison’s chemotherapy is tough, but it can’t put a damper on her passion for dance.

     

    Desi 

    Desi

    As cancer treatment’s side effects ease up, Desi’s personality is again shining through.

     

    Jack 

    Jack

    After Jack was diagnosed with cancer, his family was impressed how everyone at CHOP made them feel special.

     

    Jordyn 

    Jordyn

    Jordyn is using her strength to overcome acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), the second most common blood cancer in children.

     

    Lucas 

    Lucas

    Lucas’ rare cancer was extremely fast-growing. With treatment finished, he’s ready for soccer season.

     

    Lizzy 

    Lizzy

    Chemotherapy’s side effects took away Lizzy’s identity, but she’s bouncing back.

     

    Mia 

    Mia

    For a girl who spent long stretches isolated and bedridden, Mia is very adventurous.

     

    Michael 

    Michael

    Chemotherapy damaged the bone tissue in Michael’s legs, requiring surgery.

     

    Nicholas 

    Nicholas

    After Nicholas, 14, received a cancer diagnosis, his care team supported the entire family’s well being.

     

    Thomas 

    Thomas

    When Thomas’ leukemia returned, he bravely faced the brutal chemotherapy.

     

     

     

  • 2018 Ambassadors 
    Ella 

    Ella

    Treatment for the cancer in her abdomen and lungs hasn’t slowed down Ella, 7, the “mayor” of her school.

     

    Jack 

    Jack

    After a devastating leukemia diagnosis, Jack’s genetic test came back with some reassuring results.

     

    Kaitlyn 

    Kaitlyn

    Kaitlyn lights up the room with her smile and emanates positivity, despite her battle with rhabdomyosarcoma.

     

    Kaleo 

    Kaleo

    A bone marrow transplant over a year ago saved Kaleo’s life. Today, he’s a dancing machine.

     

    Kayla 

    Kayla

    Kayla’s experience with cancer treatment is influencing her future choices.

     

    keira 

    Keira

    A year and a half following her ALL diagnosis, Keira, 9, is singing, dancing and playing sports.

     

    Maddison 

    Maddison

    Six-year-old Maddison has a colorful style, which was on display even during treatment for leukemia.

     

    Madeline (Maddie) 

    Madeline

    On some days, Madeline, 10, felt overwhelmed by her cancer treatment. But she powered through it.

     

    Micaela 

    Micaela

    Micaela, 15, is battling metastatic non-HPV cervical carcinoma. Radiation followed by immunotherapy have resolved her symptoms.

     

    Nick 

    Nick

    Because Nick’s parents speak little English, at every one of his appointments, an in-person interpreter is present.

     

    Zamiyha 

    Zamiyha

    Zamiyha had a brain tumor as a child and a bone marrow cancer as a young adult. Both times, she got treatment at CHOP.

     

     

     

  • Alumni Ambassadors 

    2017

    • Arianna
    • Dylan
    • Jillian
    • JR
    • Justin
    • Juwan
    • Kyle
    • Morgan
    • Nick
    • Om
    • Toni

    2016

    • Aaron
    • Abby
    • Anthony
    • Catrina
    • Conall
    • Emily
    • Hannah
    • Jaiden
    • James
    • Jaxson
    • Max
    • Megan
    • Sydney

    2015

    • Ayana
    • Adam
    • Paige
    • Zachary
    • Olivia
    • Greg
    • Dalton
    • Liam
    • Grayson
    • Sibling Ambassadors
    • Jessica & Shannon
    • Zak

    2014

    • Sonny
    • Samantha
    • Shannon
    • Rialee
    • Alec
    • Veronica
    • Angelina
    • Naya
    • Sophia
    • Mason
    • Grace
    • Brylan

    2013

    • Kaitlyn
    • Joey
    • Shawn
    • Grace
    • Callum
    • Jake
    • Mary
    • Antonio
    • Dominic
    • Courtney
    • Naya
    • Hailey

    2012

    • Kevin
    • Hayley
    • Rachel
    • Eli
    • Sophia
    • Samantha
    • Alex
    • Carly
    • Mollie & Gracie
    • Emily