2024 Ambassadors

Patient Ambassadors of the Parkway Run & Walk are superheroes with 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 the impact of childhood cancer and why it’s worth supporting institutions like Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Arielle’s Story

ArielleIn fall 2022, Arielle and her family were in Michigan for the holidays, and it seemed like Arielle had pneumonia. A lung X-ray did not show pneumonia, however. It showed a 12-centimeter mass behind her left lung. The ER doctor alerted CHOP, and the family headed back to Philadelphia. The diagnosis was T-cell lymphoma. “That day our lives kind of stood still,” explains Arielle’s mother, Ashley. “Fortunately, we have a strong and sassy little girl. And we knew she’d receive great care at CHOP.” In remission since 2023, 10-year-old Arielle enjoys dancing, cheerleading, swimming and watching movies, and she hopes to become a nurse.

Arielle’s choice for a superpower: To be invisible.

Caroline’s Story

CarolineAt just 2 1/2 years old, Caroline was diagnosed with high-risk B-cell leukemia. Her mother, Katherine, is a physician and did her post-graduate training at CHOP: “There was not a question in my mind as to where we would take our precious daughter,” she says. Through complications and severe side effects, Caroline has remained a ray of sunshine. “She is infamous for her calmness during medical procedures,” Katherine reports. “During lumbar punctures, she requires very minimal sedative medication and spends the time talking to her oncologist about Peppa Pig and Bluey. Whenever I ask Caroline who is the bravest girl in the whole wide world, her hand shoots up and she says, ‘Me! I am!’”

Caroline’s superpower: Her smile is contagious!

Griffin’s Story

GriffinIn August 2023, Griffin developed a dry cough that lasted weeks. Eventually, a pediatrician sent him for a chest X-ray. “That X-ray changed our life forever,” says his mom, Cassandra. “It showed multiple masses in his chest, and his left lung was collapsed.” At CHOP he was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, a cancer of the kidney that, in Griffin’s case, had spread to his lungs. He underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The family is inspired to support the work of CHOP’s Cancer Center: “Without research, our son’s prognosis wouldn’t be what it is today, and every child and their family deserve that.”

Griffin’s choice for a superpower: lightning speed

Hayden’s Story

HaydenHayden, 18, loves playing basketball. But in November 2022, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, which prevented him from playing. At CHOP he underwent multiple rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. “I loved the care I received from all the staff members, especially my nurses, who talked with me and made me feel as if everything was normal,” he says. His mom, Jodi, adds, “CHOP cared for not only his treatment and his recovery but his well-being.” Although he was not able to play his senior year, he served as an assistant coach and is headed to Temple University in the fall to study sports management.

Hayden’s choice for a superpower: flying

Joey’s Story

JoeySeven-year-old Joey has been cared for at CHOP his entire life, since being born with multiple debilitating and rare conditions. In October 2022, his health challenges increased significantly when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In addition to ongoing chemotherapy, his treatment has included a bone marrow transplant, with his sister, Mia, as his donor. “CHOP gives us access to multiple pediatric specialists who collaborate to provide Joey with the best possible care,” says his mother, Laura. “Joey is our very own real-life superhero. He spreads magic to all those he meets.”

Joey’s choice for a superpower: super speed

Mason’s Story

MasonTackle football helped save 10-year-old Mason’s life. When his family thought he had a football injury, they took him to get an X-ray of his ribs. Instead, doctors discovered a mass in his lung. At CHOP, comprehensive tests diagnosed Mason with Hodgkin lymphoma. Over the next six months, he underwent chemotherapy and proton therapy at CHOP, with what his mother, Danielle, calls “the BEST care team in the world!” Thanks to the guidance and encouragement of his CHOP care team, Mason stayed active during treatment. Now, he is back to fully participating in sports, including flag football and wrestling.

Mason’s choice for a superpower: super strength

Maya’s Story

MayaAfter Maya was born, her parents noticed a slight protrusion of her left eye. At 20 months old, Maya was diagnosed with a genetic disease called neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), and she had an inoperable brain tumor attached to both optic nerves. These tumors associated with NF1 are benign, but chemotherapy can keep them from growing. Maya began frequent visits to CHOP for low-dose chemotherapy and continued it until last fall, with a break from 2016 to 2018. At one point she developed a small brain tumor that required surgery. Now 14, she hopes to become a child life specialist.

Maya’s choice for a superpower: to read minds

Veronika’s Story

VeronikaIn January 2023, Veronika’s pediatrician became concerned about her weight loss and suspected an eating disorder. For six months, Veronika saw specialists and gained weight, but her endocrine levels still weren’t right. An MRI finally uncovered the root cause — a cancerous brain tumor. Her treatments at CHOP included surgery, 16 chemotherapy infusions and 24 proton radiation sessions. “She likes to read, draw, bake, travel, make lists and play word games,” says her mother, Lisa. “Many describe her as an ‘old soul.’” Now 16, she is focused on doing regular teenage things again, including getting her driver’s permit!

Veronika’s choice for a superpower: Time travel

2023 Ambassadors

Aaron’s Story

AaronSoon after he turned 4 in August 2022, Aaron was diagnosed with a brain tumor. His intense treatment included surgery, high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. While staying at CHOP, “Aaron made so many friends with his nurses,” says his mother, Shana. Now that he’s finished treatment, he will have follow-up scans to make sure the cancer doesn’t come back. Aaron would like to be a nurse when he grows up — and a school bus driver, firefighter, policeman and teacher.

Aaron’s superpower: Making big plans!

Alina’s Story

AaronSeven-year-old Alina’s mother, Payal, describers her as “sweet, smart, determined and a very logical thinker.” Alina’s journey with leukemia started when she broke her arm and then developed a fever. At the local ER, it was found that all her blood counts were low, and she was transferred to CHOP. “When Alina was first hospitalized,” says Payal, “she met a child life specialist who really helped Alina understand what was happening inside her body. We really appreciated that.”

Alina’s superpower: Her laughter is contagious!

Bella’s Story

BellaIn June 2022, Bella woke up with a funny feeling in her shoulder. By July she was undergoing chemotherapy for bone cancer. Over the course of eight months, she joked her way through treatment, including tumor removal surgery, which replaced her shoulder joint and 4 inches of upper-arm bone with metal versions. Now 17, she’s slowly working her way back to competing with her cross-country team, and she shows off her scars proudly.

Bella’s superpower: “The ability to make people laugh. It’s my favorite thing in the world.”

Branson’s Story

BransonWhen Branson, 4, developed a rash of small red dots all over his torso, his family thought it wasn’t too worrisome. But the dots were actually a leukemia symptom known as “petechiae.” Thanks to aggressive treatments, he’s been in remission and on maintenance therapy since January 2022. This past spring, he announced an exciting discovery: “I have hair again!” He loves French fries, hot dogs, the Starbucks Pink Drink, and any and all vehicles.

Branson’s choice for a superpower: “Super speed!”

Genevieve’s Story

GenevieveAfter being diagnosed at age 2 with a rare subtype of leukemia, Genevieve cruised through treatment but relapsed 15 months later. “We know relapsed leukemia is hard,” says her mother, Liesel, “so we came to CHOP to seek care.” Genevieve participated in clinical trials and had a bone marrow transplant, with her big sister Charlotte as her donor. Now 8, she loves her golden retriever, Honey, and wants to be a veterinarian.

Genevieve’s choice for a superpower: “I want to fly so I can travel the world.”

James’s Story

JamesJames went to the ER due to dehydration caused by a stomach virus. Bloodwork showed abnormally high numbers of immature white blood cells, which is a strong indication of leukemia. “When they said that leukemia was a possibility, we could not believe it,” says his mother, Dawn. “James never got sick.” He was sent to CHOP, where the diagnosis was confirmed. “So the first time my son is really sick, the diagnosis is cancer. Crazy!” Now 15, James wants to be a video game designer.
James’s superpower: Staying positive, even when times are rough.

Jeziah’s Story

JeziahSeven-year-old Jeziah’s mother, Arelis, describes him as a “very, very loving” boy who always wants to help people. He’s also brave and resilient: While being treated for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, he would undergo a spinal tap and then head right to soccer practice. In remission since summer 2022, he will continue the maintenance phase of treatment until summer 2024.

Jeziah’s choice for a superpower: “Super speed!”

Kylah’s Story

KylahSix-year-old Kylah was diagnosed in April 2022 with Wilms tumor, a rare kidney cancer that mainly affects children. She endured her cancer treatment with courage and resilience and completed her treatment in December 2022. She now enjoys going to school, spending time with loved ones, swimming and playing ice hockey — she was thrilled when she attended her first Flyers game.

Kylah’s choice for a superpower: Blazing speed, like the cartoon Blaze and the Monster Machines.

Lily’s Story

LilyAfter complaining of a tummy ache in January, 3-year-old Lily was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma. She immediately started an 18-month treatment plan, including a therapy that is combined with radioactive iodine to specifically attack neuroblastoma cells. “Lily is the strongest kid we know,” says her mother, Dana. Lily loves to go to the park and zoo and wants to be ballerina.

Lily’s choice for a superpower: The ability to fly.

Maddy’s Story

MaddyMaddy, 9, was diagnosed with liver cancer in October 2022. She began chemotherapy right away and then had surgery to remove the tumor, which left her with a scar in the shape of a rainbow. “There’s no better place than CHOP,” says her mom, Lauren. “Every single person was so supportive,” adds her dad, Jeff. She loves reading, coloring, her theater class and the Beatles.

Maddy’s superpower: “Being very quiet.”

Olivia’s Story

OliviaAfter tests at a New Jersey urgent care couldn’t explain Olivia’s symptoms, the doctor sent them to an ER, where a CT scan detected a large mass in her brain. It was a cancer called medulloblastoma. The family drove themselves to CHOP after multiple transports were delayed. Overall, Olivia, now 4, underwent four brain surgeries plus six rounds of chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. Throughout her months-long hospital stay, her family created scavenger hunts, held tea parties, hosted a lemonade stand and celebrated her stuffed animals’ birthdays. They aim to “Live Like LIV.”

Olivia’s superpower: Finding joy in each day.

2022 Ambassadors

Anthony’s Story

AnthonyAnthony, 15, is more than two years in remission from Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. His mother, Jennifer, describes him as “very outgoing, enthusiastic, and a go-getter.” That personality may be why he enjoys chatting with the child life specialists at CHOP and the nurses at CHOP’s Specialty Care & Surgery Center in Voorhees, N.J., where he received the majority of his chemotherapy. He attends a specialized high school in New Jersey, the Marine Academy of Technology & Environmental Science, and he plans on attending a great college and studying to be an engineer.

Asa’s Story

AsaAsa was diagnosed with leukemia three days shy of turning 3 months old. Even throughout treatment at CHOP, he was the happiest baby. He completed many rounds of chemotherapy and then went on to get CAR T-cell therapy, in which a patient’s immune system is reprogrammed to fight cancer. He got very sick but made a remarkable recovery. His care team loves the way his smile and laugh light up any room he enters. He enjoys playing with his older sister, Raegan, and his parents, India and Rich. “When it comes to personality,” says India, “Asa is definitely the king of good vibes!”

Caitlin’s Story

CaitlinAfter it was discovered that Caitlin, 15, had a high level of a type of disease-fighting white blood cell, it took months to reach a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma. She came to CHOP for care and showed up on the first day of chemotherapy with a shaved head, having donated her long hair the day before. “With chemo came questions of course — worries, doubts and lots of fear of the unknown,” Caitlin wrote for a fundraiser she started, which raised $10,000+ for CHOP’s Cancer Center. “But with every one of these things, there has been someone from CHOP to help me with whatever I need.” Now done treatment, she likes to spend time baking and being outdoors.

Ellie’s Story

EillieFive-year-old Ellie has a big personality. “Bubbly, sassy, silly, determined, very loving and caring” is how her mother, Candice, describes her. In July 2019, after Ellie experienced stomach pains and vomiting, the family came to CHOP and received a diagnosis of neuroblastoma, a cancer that starts in very early forms of nerve cells. The family already had first-hand experience with CHOP care: “Ellie was a CHOP NICU baby when she was first born, so I knew she would be in great hands,” Candice says. Today, this firebrand is doing great and is in remission.

Emerson’s Story

EmersonNot every family has a real hero in their midst, but if you ask Avery, 9, and Camryn, 7, they’ll gladly tell you who’s their hero — their 4-year-old sister, Emerson. The outgoing preschooler broke her arm, then suddenly stopped walking. Doctors initially suspected an infection, but further testing revealed Emerson had leukemia. “With CHOP in our backyard, we never had second thoughts about going anywhere else,” says Emerson’s mom, Lauren. Emerson has been treated with several different chemotherapies and is now in maintenance therapy. Emerson’s dream after treatment? Meeting the princesses at Disney World and becoming a doctor to help kids like her.

Lily’s Story

LilyLily, 17, has been fighting brain cancer for three years. After 33 proton radiation treatments and four months of chemotherapy, unfortunately the tumor showed growth. Her treatment was switched to a targeted agent. “The tumor has now stayed stable for almost two years,” says her mother, Megan. The tumor and treatment have at times affected Lily’s ability to speak, her facial muscles, and her memory— but she can always remember song lyrics! She likes to bake — “I make a pretty good vanilla cake,” she reports — and she gives motivational speeches about having an inoperable tumor. “We are struck by the amount of kindness and positivity that exudes from everyone we meet at CHOP,” says Megan.

Louigi’s Story

LouigiWhile the chance of a child developing leukemia is very low, children who have Down syndrome, like 12-year-old Louigi, are more likely to get leukemia than children without Down syndrome. Louigi’s lethargy and belly pain started in April 2020, and the fear was that he had COVID-19. At an urgent care center, “He started shaking,” says his mother, Jimmy, “so they called an ambulance.” At CHOP, he was diagnosed with leukemia. Several times over the next year, he needed to be admitted, once for 25 days. Despite a difficult treatment course, Louigi always greeted his care team with a big smile and sweet compliment, and today he’s doing very well at home and in school.

Maddie’s Story

Maddie, 15, was diagnosed with pancreatic acinar cell carcinoma, a cancer that is exceptionally rare in children. She was initially treated at a hospital near her family’s Dayton, Ohio, home, undergoing surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. After Maddie relapsed multiple times, the family came to CHOP to receive care from the experts at the Very Rare Malignant Tumors Program. She received a type of chemotherapy that interrupts the way solid tumors multiply, and today her scans show no evidence of disease. Her mother, Princess, describes her as “bubbly, full of life and as sweet as they come,” and she loves doing gymnastics and art projects.

Madison’s Story

Madison’s mother, Jennifer, describes the 5-year-old as “a spunky little spitfire.” When Madison was just a few months old, Jennifer noticed a very slight eye movement: “It was so faint, I stood over her for 10 minutes until I saw it again.” An MRI revealed a large tumor around Madison’s optic nerves and in her brain. Madison’s vision was found to be severely affected. Her tumor is inoperable and chemotherapy was immediately begun. Chemotherapy shrunk the tumor and, for now, her vision has not worsened further, but she has started learning Braille. She’s thrilled to be a Parkway Run Ambassador: “Madison dreams of being famous, and she thinks being a Parkway Run Ambassador will make her famous!” Jennifer says with a laugh.

Nuala’s Story

NualaFive-year-old Nuala is a keen observer and born performer; she always wants to be in on the action. An inquisitive rising first-grader, Nuala takes her role as big sister very seriously. A series of minor ailments — fevers, fatigue and bruising — led Nuala’s family to CHOP, where she was diagnosed with leukemia. She was treated with chemotherapy and is now receiving maintenance therapy. “We’re counting down the days to May 19, 2023 — our ‘no more chemo’ day,” says Nuala’s mom, Kelly. Nuala has big plans for her future: to be a research scientist to help kids with leukemia and a dancer with the Radio City Rockettes. “We want Nuala to live a long and healthy life pursuing her dreams,” Kelly adds.

Peter’s Story

PeterIn 2020, Peter began to lose his balance, one of many symptoms that led to a diagnosis of medulloblastoma, a brain tumor. Throughout months of treatment at CHOP’s Philadelphia and King of Prussia campuses, “Peter was treated with world-class care and attention,” says his mom, Tricia. When radiation techs noticed hair on Peter’s pillow, they alerted a child life specialist, who brought Peter a book and gently prepared him for losing his hair. “He was never just a patient to his care team,” says Tricia. “He was Peter.” Now 8, Peter is back at school and busy with soccer, Legos and playing with his three sisters.

Sophia’s Story

SophiaSophia, 6, was having what were thought to be migraines. Then her eye doctor made an alarming discovery: Sophia was fully blind in her right eye. At CHOP, she was diagnosed with a tumor around her optic nerve. The cancer had spread to the fluid and membranes around her brain and spinal cord. After being treated with intravenous chemotherapy, she’s now taking a pill that targets her cancer with fewer side effects. Through it all, “She’s quite bubbly and full of energy,” says her mother, Lindsay. Sophia has big plans for her future: “When I grow up, I want to live in New York and be cancer doctor and a K9 police officer!”

Tripp’s Story

TrippWatching Tripp zoom around, you’d never know how much he’s overcome in the past two years. In July 2020, before he was even a year old, Tripp was diagnosed with neuroblastoma and treated at CHOP with chemotherapy and surgery. Less than a year later, the cancer returned. “Tripp’s diagnosis was traumatic, but his relapse was even more so,” says his mom, Sarah. Tripp again underwent surgery to remove the tumor and rounds of chemotherapy, but this time clinicians also added a stem cell transplant, proton therapy and immunotherapy. Recent scans show the intensive, multi-layered treatment approach is working. Tripp’s family can’t wait to see what their PAW Patrol-loving boy will tackle next.

Wesley’s Story

Wesley is a gregarious, inquisitive 4-year-old who’s always asking about how things work, what they mean and how he can help. When he developed a rash, his family suspected allergies. Then his pediatrician discovered Wesley’s spleen was enlarged and his lymph nodes swollen; he urged the family to go to CHOP’s E.R., where Wesley was diagnosed with leukemia. Wesley received intravenous chemotherapy, endured lumbar punctures to administer chemotherapy into his spine, and received more than 40 blood and/or platelet transfusions. In June, Wesley entered the maintenance phase of his treatment. He’s looking forward to trips to the shore, fishing with his dad and grandpop, and returning to preschool.

Wyatt’s Story

WyattWyatt, 4, loves light-up cowboy boots and doughnuts. Especially the chocolate sprinkle doughnuts his CHOP oncologist and nurse practitioner brought him at every clinic visit. Wyatt was 3 when a biopsy of the enlarged lymph nodes bulging from his neck led to a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma. Three months after completing treatment, he relapsed. Though his family lives in Maryland, their commute to CHOP for care was “well worth it,” says Wyatt’s mom, Lauren. “The attention, love and patience every single person showed our entire family was amazing.” With treatment behind him, Wyatt is now enjoying preschool, fishing at the lake and playing with his little sisters.

2021 Ambassadors

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.

Ayana’s Story
(Alumni Ambassador)

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

2018 Ambassadors


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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