Nonprofit stresses ‘Dream Big’ theme for its Gold Ribbon Campaign
Each September, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation celebrates National Childhood Cancer Awareness month through its Gold Ribbon Campaign to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer.
This year, TBCF’s campaign theme is “Dream Big” to take families from “surviving to thriving.”
With the catalyst of generous seed capital to purchase a building, the focus is on playing a more critical role in filling the gaps in service.
The foundation advocates for families living in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties that have a child with cancer by providing financial, educational and emotional support.
Ariya Ramos is typical of the children whose families receive this support. She is this year’s featured child of the 2021 Gold Ribbon Campaign. TBCF is sharing her uplifting story as a way of spreading positive light during this difficult time amidst a global health crisis, according to a press release.
In May 2018, 3-year-old Aryia complained of stomach pains. She stopped eating, couldn’t sleep and cried often. After numerous doctor visits, she wasn’t improving.
Ariya’s mother asked for an ultrasound, and it was then that an abnormality on her liver was discovered. A CT scan revealed that Ariya had a softball-sized tumor in her stomach. This news came just three months after her parents had purchased their first home.
Ariya’s family was sent from their home in Santa Maria to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a form of childhood cancer.
The family began their battle and spent the next six months undergoing chemotherapy in Los Angeles every three weeks.
The emotional and physical stress of chemotherapy was difficult, in addition to the stress of traveling back and forth to L.A. every three weeks. Fortunately, doctors were able to remove 90% of Ariya’s tumor with resections, but she lost most of one kidney.
Brave Aryia endured two stem cell transplants, 12 days of radiation and six months of immunotherapy before celebrating her victory with an End-of-Chemo party in 2019. She is currently in maintenance and is a bright ball of energy.
In 2020, she was able to share her light with TBCF’s kids’ support groups and at virtual events.
During her treatment, bills piled up, and her parents were given $4,250 in direct financial assistance from TBCF to help alleviate some of their stress so that they could focus on Ariya’s care. Aryia received tutoring from TBCF and will be receiving another $1,500 of support to cover the cost of neuropsychological testing this fall.
She is looking forward to starting first grade so that she can achieve her big dreams of becoming a paleontologist, veterinarian, nurse and doctor.