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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Local fundraising event for cancer society

  • In November 2007, Dodge City resident, Michelle Dunbar found herself caring for her 5-year-old daughter who fell ill. Her youngest of four, Mariah G. Villa, suffered from a fever and weight-loss due to her lack of appetite. Like any parent would do, Michelle took her daughter to see doctors, anxious to treat Mariah's symptoms...
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  • In November 2007, Dodge City resident, Michelle Dunbar found herself caring for her 5-year-old daughter who fell ill. Her youngest of four, Mariah G. Villa, suffered from a fever and weight-loss due to her lack of appetite. Like any parent would do, Michelle took her daughter to see doctors, anxious to treat Mariah's symptoms and get her frail little girl back to her vivacious self.
    Four months later in March 2008, right as Mariah welcomed her sixth birthday, her family was told her continual illness was symptomatic of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
    "She started treatment right away," Michelle said. "Her first round of chemotherapy was successful; she went through it all with a smile on her face."
    Mariah went into remission and returned to school to finally enjoy her kindergarten class after having missed her first attempt at kindergarten due to being away to undergo treatment.
    Unfortunately, time would prove it was only the calm before the storm.
    "My oldest son, Mariah and myself were on our way to Kansas City because Mariah was scheduled to receive a transplant" Michelle said. "I noticed Mariah's discolored face and she was short of breath so we quickly turned the car around to the nearest emergency room but they couldn't save her, we found out a blood clot had traveled into one of her lungs."
    Mariah passed away on March 4, 2009, one week before her seventh birthday.
    "She was a princess, she was 'my' princess and everyone absolutely loved her," Michelle said. "Her smile was contagious, even when she was sick, she never stopped smiling."
    "Maria loved outdoor activities, she loved butterflies - I see butterflies around me all the time and I know it's her...she's with me every day."
    Finding a cure through community support
    A fundraiser inspired by Mariah's journey with cancer is scheduled to take place Sunday, May 19, at Friendship Park, hosted by Mariah's father, Francisco Villla and his wife, Erica Villa. All proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society.
    The fundraiser , whose theme is Find a Cure Through Community Support, will be a yard-sale-style event that will offer clothes, toys, household items and much more. Home-made food will also be available to purchase, including enchiladas, tamales, pudding pies, cheesecake, cupcakes, and more.
    "We have been planning this event since April," Erica said. "My team and I have set a goal to each raise $100 and we began reaching out to sponsors. I was very pleased to find out that the majority of the businesses i've called were more then willing to help."
    According to Erica, she currently has a list of more than 40 sponsors that have helped by making monetary donations and food donations.
    Other items being sold at the event were donated by different people in the community and all things not sold will be donated to Salvation Army and Second Time Around.
    Page 2 of 2 - "As our way of saying thank you to everyone who has helped and everyone that will be coming out to support the fundraiser we will be serving cake and a bouncy house will be available for the kids to enjoy," Erica said. "We will also have a lemonade stand...it's just going to be a fun day. I encourage everyone to come out, there will be something for everyone, and it's all for a good cause."
    The Villas will also be hosting a car wash at Auto Zone, Sunday May 26th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    IF YOU GO
    What: Find cure through community support fundraiser
    Where: Friendship Park; Ave C & Ash St
    When: Sunday, May 19; 9-5 p.m.

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