PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 news at 10am) – A family in Tampa Bay who lost their son to childhood cancer is helping other families facing similar medical struggles by organizing charity events and raising awareness through the nonprofit Finn’s Fighters Foundation.
Finn was only five when doctors discovered a tumor in his spine. After multiple surgeries, chemotherapy infusions, blood and platelet transfusions and multiple hospital stays, Finn was able to ‘ring the bell’ in May 2019. Finn had to learn to walk again and spent the summer traveling and being just a kid. That fall, the cancer returned and Finn had lost his fight by January 2020.
Finn’s mother, Christen Gray, says Finn’s Fighters was founded in May 2019 as a way for her family to continue to fight for cancer awareness locally, as well as a means to pay it forward after the community has turned around her emotionally, financially and spiritually family. support. She adds, ‘We wanted to keep it local. There are plenty of other great organizations doing research and raising money – but because of our experience and because we’ve found other people like us who needed help – need financial support … when a child is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family diagnosed, in theory. ”
Gray says Finn’s Fighters is committed to raising awareness of childhood cancer and supporting families facing a medical crisis near Tampa Bay.
“The gala is a way for us to raise money. Were thrilled! When we started planning the gala, Covid put a damper on that, so we had to postpone it, but all our supporters said, ‘Keep it. We know we will be back one day! ”
That day is back. Regarding the gala event, Gray says, “We were aware of the Covid restrictions and followed the CDC guidelines and we have a smaller version of the event. So we actually purposefully [limited capacity]. We have sold out 200 tickets, even if the venue could accommodate more. “
Pediatric oncologist Dr. Erin Cockrell of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa says organizations like Finn’s Fighters are crucial in the fight against cancer. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without organizations like Finn’s Fighters. Christian wanted to give back from the start, ”said Dr. Cockrell, adding“ We depend on donations and people to support hospitals – and ways we can support these families. Because again, it’s just life-changing. It turns the world around. “
As a parent with a child with cancer, Gray enjoys drawing on her experience to help others. “That’s what I’m most proud of, that we are so impactful in the community. People are contacting us now, looking us up. When someone is newly diagnosed, they visit us. “
Gray wants to not only help people in a medical crisis, but also to keep educating the public about childhood cancer. She says, “not only should we give children a chance, but we should also give children a chance for a long life.”
And to keep Finn’s fight going. Dr. Cockrell added, “This will be his legacy. And to continue his legacy, to help so many people and families go through what they had to go through. ”
To learn more about Finn’s Fighters, his story, and how you can help or get help, visit the Finn’s Fighters website.