2015 Sunshine Kids SpokesKids
Each year a young cancer patient is selected to represent kids with cancer everywhere.
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Nicole Boyle   Nicole Boyle
Scribner, NE
2015 Sunshine Kids National SpokesKid
 
  My name is Nicole Boyle. I am 15 years old and live in Scribner, NE. I was a very active teenager, spending time riding my horse, Annie, and participating in many athletic activities. Some say I am a bit rambunctious and loud, loving to play video games and watching horror movies. Sports are one of my many passions with volleyball, basketball, softball, and track being my favorites to play. In June 2014 I was in the middle of softball season when my world began to unravel. I started to get fatigued just running from first to second base. What my parents thought was just a case of mono or the flu, turned out to be a cancer called Myelodysplastic Syndrome, otherwise known as MDS. Needless to say, it was a shock to us all.

After my diagnosis, I spent the rest of the summer in the hospital preparing for and completing a bone-marrow transplant. As the youngest twin in a family of 5 kids, it was an incredible blessing to have my oldest brother, Craig, be my bone marrow match! He happily delayed his deployment to the Middle East with the Air Force to be his little sister’s bone marrow donor. I was a bit scared, but always knew that whatever happened, worst case I would be with Jesus in Heaven. My faith and my strong, supportive family helped to get me through some very rough days. I am happy to say that I am well on my way to recovery and ready to get back into full swing of my freshman year in high school.

In November of 2014 I was invited to attend the Florida Sunshine Kids trip. I was pretty nervous at first because it meant not just traveling, which I have not done much of, but also going without any of my family members. It turned out to be the best experience ever! I was able to meet wild and fantastic kids who have become my friends. The best part was that each of the kids had experienced a life-changing event just like me. We understood how each other were feeling and really appreciated the unique support we could offer to one another. I have grown more compassionate in listening to and meeting with others concerning their problems and challenges. In addition, I’m more passionate about wanting others to value, respect, and learn just how difficult it is for kids to keep pushing forward with their cancer treatments.

Thank you Sunshine Kids for giving me the opportunity to forget about cancer treatments for a while, experience something I would not have done otherwise, and, most of all, allowing me to be with the greatest, bravest, strongest group of kids in the world. I will never forget the people who have supported me through the harsh journey, and I will do my best to help others through it too.
     
     
Angela Ortiz   Angela Ortiz
Homestead, FL
2015 Sunshine Kids National SpokesKid
 
  My name is Angela Ortiz. I’m 18 years old and live in Miami, Florida. I’m an avid reader, a dedicated disdainer of math, and way more into watching romantic comedies than I would care to admit. When I’m not doing any of those things—or my homework, I spend my time hanging out with the most amazing friends and family who helped me through the past two years. Currently, I’m a senior in high school and very much looking forward to attending university in the fall. I hope to pursue a career that would enable me to help as many people as I can along the way. I have two mind-bendingly goofy dogs named Buddy and Koya. Needless to say, I’m completely in love with my life.

Two years ago, during the fall of my junior year, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was daunting to see how everything in my life had to change in order to deal with my cancer. As I went through chemotherapy and then radiation I was surrounded by my loving and supportive friends and family. I really couldn’t have wished for a better support system. In February of 2014 I was invited to go to New Orleans with the Sunshine Kids. I was beyond excited by the invitation. Being able to meet so many amazing people who could relate to what I was going through meant the world to me. I made friends who I’ll never forget and memories I’ll cherish forever. I couldn’t be happier to be involved with this organization and couldn’t be more psyched to see other kids have the same amazing experience that I had with Sunshine Kids Foundation.
     
     
Morgan Bjarno   Morgan Bjarno
Glastonbury, CT
2015 Sunshine Kids National SpokesKid
 
  Morgan’s first experience with the Sunshine Kids Foundation was on the 2014 Summer Broadway Break trip. "I had been to New York City with my family. I knew it was a really exciting place, but staying in a hotel in the middle of Times Square for a week was beyond words. I was so thrilled for the trip and excited that I was at a point in my treatments where I would be able to spend a week simply enjoying life! In the time I spent at my hospital, I had met only a few other teenage patients. So, it was really inspiring to spend the week interacting with kids from all across the country who shared so many similar experiences with me. When people in the city asked me what my yellow lanyard meant, I was proud to explain to them what Sunshine Kids was all about. I am honored to be in this role as a National Spokeskid for such a super organization that I know makes a world of difference to so many young cancer patients."

In April 2013, at age 15 Morgan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She was an athlete, particularly loving the game of soccer. Intense pain in her back and chest brought her to the ER late one night. Later, a blood test would reveal Morgan had leukemia. Morgan’s attitude from the day she was diagnosed was to stay positive, keep herself informed about what was going on with both her body and in the treatment and to keep focused on the progress being made to beat her cancer. Today, Morgan is in remission and is scheduled to finally finish treatment in August 2015. Amazingly, she is on track to graduate with her class this spring, despite spending considerable time in the hospital during her junior year. Next year she will attend Providence College to study Healthcare Policy and Management. Her hopes are to then continue her studies in an effort to become a Physician’s Assistant.

Ever since the Sunshine Kid’s trip to NYC, she has added a whole bunch of new Kids to her circle of friends. "Being a Spokeskid for Sunshine Kids will allow me to be a part of the lives of other young cancer patients as we put our illnesses aside to just have fun together."
     
     
Tiara McDowney   Tiara McDowney
King George, VA
2014 Sunshine Kids National SpokesKid
 
  Hi! My name is Tiara McDowney. I am 14 years old and proud to say I am a cancer survivor. On December 14th, 2012 I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. At the time I was only 12 years old and completely unaware of how much cancer was capable of and the toll it would take on my life. My heart sunk when I realized I had to do chemotherapy and as a result I would lose all my hair. Later, I learned as hard as the treatment and its effects were, they would not be the worst part of it all; I would have to have my right leg amputated just below the knee. Since the tumor was on my foot, the likelihood of it recurring was high, so the doctors agreed amputation was the best option. After months of recovery from surgery I began therapy to learn how to walk again. Although there were many rough moments, days and even weeks along the journey, I am thankful I can now say I made it through

In January 2014 (sometime between the 15th-17th to be exact!), I was invited to attend a Sunshine Kids trip to Colorado. I was so nervous and scared because attending meant I would have to go onto a plane without my mom or dad. However, thinking of all the kids I would meet who were just like me gave me the courage to make the trip! It was the best decision I could have ever made. Mainly, because I met three amazing Sunshine Kids who had a big impact on my life. Their names are: Brenna, Noah, and Emily. They all taught me that cancer couldn’t stop you from doing anything. If it weren’t for Sunshine Kids, I wouldn’t be the strong person I am today.
     
     
Austin Keller   Austin Keller
Annville, PA
2015 Sunshine Kids National SpokesKid
 
  In early 2012 Austin Keller was a 12 year old honor roll student and three sport athlete working to balance being on the wrestling, baseball and football teams at his middle school in Annville, PA. In February of that same year he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in his lower jaw and endured a 15 hour surgery to replace his lower jaw with a portion of his fibula. Upon learning about how rare his diagnosis was and that only 5 cases had been reported in the United States, Austin asked his oncologist at Pennsylvania State University Medical Center if he could donate his lower jaw to research that might be beneficial to help other Kids.

Post-surgery Austin began his treatment schedule of 30 radiation treatments and 40 cycles of chemotherapies that lasted well over a year. Having to put sports on hold, he developed a love of drawing anime comics and reading. Although he is still on oral chemotherapy he is gradually getting back to his love of sports and is once again playing baseball!

When asked to attend the 2014 Sunshine Kids California Fun-Time Fantasy trip to Los Angeles, Austin was hesitant at first, but then thought it might be fun to hang out with other teens who have had a similar cancer experience. It turns out Austin was right! During the trip he was able to make new friendships with many teens from across the United States and finally forget about hospital visits and chemo schedules. His favorite experiences while on the trip were the days spent at Disneyland and Universal Studios because it was there that he was able to truly cut loose with his newfound friends and finally just have fun!
     
     
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