The 2013 Christina's Kidz Campaign is underway! Thanks to many supporters, Christina’s Kidz continues to be able to assist families throughout Florida with emergency financial assistance while their children are on treatment for brain and spinal cord tumors. Follow the link if you would like to support the 2013 Christina's Kidz Campaign.
Meet Christina Reyes of Miami - Fundraiser Extraordinaire!
In December 2006, BTFC’s Executive Director, Mary Moore, was contacted by Dr. Miguel Reyes of Miami on behalf of his 18-year-old daughter Christina, who had recently been successfully treated for a brain tumor. Christina wanted to find a way to help other children in south Florida who are dealing with the devastating diagnosis of a brain tumor, and she decided to join forces with BTFC to offer critical financial assistance to those children and their families. Having always been an avid runner, Christina chose to participate in the upcoming ING Miami Half-Marathon to be held on January 28th as a means of fundraising. She established an online fundraising page to enable her friends and family to sponsor her through their donations. This is what Christina wrote on her fundraising page:
“Hi, my name is Christina Reyes, I am a brain tumor survivor. On April 21, 2006, I was diagnosed with a Craniopharyngioma, which is a brain tumor that develops near the pituitary gland. On July 5, 2006, three months after we received this devastating news, I had a nine hour operation to remove the tumor. The operation was a success, and the tumor was removed completely. My recovery has been a bit difficult yet successful. My journey has instilled in me a strong desire to help others who have been stricken with a brain tumor. I am particularly interested in helping children who may not be as fortunate as I've been; those who may be required to have more lengthy and involved treatment as well as those who may not have had the resources available as I did. Due to the fact that many children and their families are forced to go through this ordeal with very limited or no financial or emotional support I have decided to become involved with the BTFC. I have decided to run a half-marathon just 6 months after my surgery as my first fundraising event, and to also give hope and inspiration to those children and their families that are going through the most difficult of times.”
Christina’s initial goal of raising $10,000 was met with tremendous excitement just a week and a half into her campaign. With a new goal of $25,000, more and more donations began to pour into the Christina’s Kids fundraising page, and before long that goal was surpassed as well. "None of this could have been possible without the help of my Uncle, Jeff Wolach," says Christina. "Tio Jeff was the one responsible for arranging all the television, radio and newspaper interviews and for persuading most of the Miami-Dade Commissioners to donate so generously to Christina's Kidz. Thanks Tio."
To celebrate Christina’s amazing fundraising success and to cheer her on at the finish line, Mary Moore and Lisa Mitchell, then Secretary of BTFC’s Board of Directors, decided to fly down to Miami and attend the ING Half-Marathon. Mary and Lisa were deeply moved by the boundless enthusiasm of Christina’s supporters. “Having been in close contact with Christina every step of the way during her fundraising campaign, it was thrilling to finally meet her and dozens of her immediate and extended family members and friends,” says Mary. “Lisa and I were very touched by such a wonderful group of people who are so interested in helping others. And what a treat it was to see this remarkable and lovely young woman cross the finish line after running 13 miles, just seven months post brain surgery!”
Donations continued to come in and Christina’s initial goal of $10,000 was met seven times over, with a total of $70,000 raised between January 1st and March 1st. This is nothing short of miraculous! During the month of January, Christina became somewhat of a star in Miami, being featured (deservedly!) on local TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, and Internet sites.
On February 13th, Christina accepted an invitation to address the Miami-Dade County Commissioners, most of whom had donated generously in support of her campaign. After thanking the Commissioner’s for their support and explaining why she chose to begin this new journey, Christina was taken by surprise when Commissioner Sally Heyman presented her with a key to the city; an honor not bestowed lightly.
We are thrilled to report that Christina’s Kidz – with a logo designed especially for her – has now been established as BTFC’s south Florida Chapter. And Christina plans to make her participation in the ING Half-Marathon an annual fundraising event to support her new chapter.
While in Miami, Mary Moore and Lisa Mitchell, accompanied by Dr. Adriana Reyes, Christina’s mom, received a tour of Miami Children’s Hospital and met with staff there to discuss how Christina’s Kidz will assist patients and families. The program was enthusiastically received by staff and at the time this article went to press, Christina’s Kidz had already assisted four local families with emergency financial needs. Mary and Lisa thank social worker Mercedes Castro for organizing their visit to Miami Children’s as well as Prasanna Jayakar, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman of the Brain Institute; Maria Penate, R.N.; Ann McNeil, RN; Beverly Denham, MSW; Sandra Jawor, MSW; and Paul G. Hale of the Children’s Brain Trust for taking the time to meet with them.
In addition to her new passion of helping other kids, Christina has a passion for horses and is an accomplished equestrian. Here she is competing in a Youth Equitation Championship in Miami. Our sincerest congratulations and thanks go out to Christina, her devoted family and her wonderful friends and donors who have opened their hearts to help other children and families. We look forward to a long and successful partnership between the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children and Christina’s Kidz! Please visit Christina's Kidz for more information.