A very special gift for Mother's Day

2018-05-16 17:14China Daily Editor: Mo Hong'e ECNS App Download

For many, to observe Mother's Day means to honor moms for their sacrifice and contributions on the home front.

Others spent the holiday weekend fundraising to increase public awareness of special-needs children and advocate for pediatric cancer research and treatment.

On May 12 in Santa Clara, California, throngs of people attended the 2018 Shine for Love Fundraising Show to demonstrate how grassroots charity initiatives can make a difference to disadvantageous and underprivileged individuals and groups.

The event, composed of two variety shows and charity auctions, attracted around 1,000 attendees from the Bay Area and collected more than $35,000 for California-based Friends of Children with Special Needs and the Joey's Wings Foundation, which was originally established in Florida and now has a San Diego office.

"It took us about six months to orchestrate programs, train and rehearse performers and lobby for community involvement," said Luo Ping, founder of Able2Shine Foundation, a non-profit founded two years ago that specializes in cultivating soft skills among young Asian Americans. "We want to teach our children to be benevolent, compassionate and learn to have their hands extended to offer help."

Kathy Liu, founder of Joey's Wings Foundation, agrees. In 2014, she lost her 10-year-old son Joey to translocation renal cell carcinoma, a rare kidney cancer. Instead of indulging herself in the pain of the loss, she established the non-profit to not only honor her beloved intellectual, kind and fun Joey, but to spread the word about children's kidney cancer and advocate for government funding for research into and treatment of the dangerous condition.

On March 20, 2013, Joey had been diagnosed with stage 4 of the rare disease, with malignant cells spreading to his abdomen, chest and neck. Due to the disease's rarity, there was no standard treatment for it. Joey underwent two major surgeries in Cincinnati Children's Hospital, followed by chemotherapy, but showed no apparent improvement.

On Nov 24, 2014, he slipped into a coma and passed away two days later. "Life without Joey is extremely painful," said Liu, who flew from her San Diego residence to attend the Saturday fundraiser. "Each year, there are about 2,000 children in the world that die from the same kind of kidney cancer that took away Joey's life. The fight is on."

Joey's parents have donated Joey's cancer tissue and his corneas to a non-profit eye bank. Researchers and oncologists are able to continue to study Joey's tumor cells, which are now growing in mice.

Last summer his parents donated $100,000 to the UT Southwestern Medical Center Kidney Cancer Program to establish a translocation kidney cancer research fund.

Liu and her team have reached out to hospitals, research institutions, museums and state and federal government industry watchdogs to advocate for passage of the Creating Hope Act, which allows sponsors who receive FDA approval for new drugs for seriously ill children, including children with cancer, to receive a fully tradable voucher.

"The voucher provides the holder the rights to faster FDA review on any other drug," Liu explained.

"It's amazing that parents such as Kathy are so resilient and strong that they eventually transform adversity and misfortune in their lives into blessings for others," said Lisa Xiong, who volunteered for the fundraiser. "Their persistence, resolve and faith in love have rekindled hope for many families that are trapped in difficulties."

Xi Xi, 5, was among children performers on Saturday. She and her mom danced, sang, and walked down the catwalk.

"Where is Joey now?" Xi asked. After learning that the boy wouldn't be joining his mom for Mother's Day this year and many years to come, she threw herself into her mother's arms and was silent.



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