• 68°

April 1 walk will benefit Aria Blackburn, a little girl fighting eye cancer

By Mark Wineka
mark.wineka@salisburypost.com

CONCORD — Proceeds from an April 1 “Walk for Childhood Cancer” will benefit Aria Blackburn, a 15-month-old girl from Kannapolis who has retinoblastoma, which causes tumors to grow in the retinas of her eyes.

Aria and her family were featured in a Salisbury Post article in August. Aria is a third-generation member of her family fighting the eye cancer.

Her parents are Krista and Kevin Blackburn. Kevin also dealt with retinoblastoma as a child, as did his late father, Chris. Kevin lost his left eye because of the disease when he was only weeks old.

Aria was diagnosed with retinoblastoma when she was 4 weeks old. She has had 11 tumors so far, but none has yet threatened the optic nerve, which could cost her her sight. Aria has undergone numerous rounds of chemotherapy, laser therapy and cyrotherapy, in which the tumors are frozen.

The treatments at Willis Eye Hospital in Philadelphia are aimed at calcifying the tumors. To date, Aria has been responding to the treatments.

Until Aria’s retinas are fully developed, which usually happens at 5 years old, she likely will continue to develop tumors that need to be treated. Since the Post story last summer, Aria has developed two additional tumors.

Aria and her mother, and sometimes her father and other family members, have to travel to Philadelphia every four weeks for an examination under anesthesia and for whatever treatment is necessary.

The Blackburns’ out-of-pocket medical and travel expenses have continued to grow. The fundraising goal of the April 1 walk is $25,000.

Otherwise, the family depends on health insurance that Kevin has through his IT job at Food Lion headquarters in Salisbury. Children’s Flight of Hope in Mooresville has provided two plane tickets for each Philadelphia trip, and Crossroads Church members have helped with babysitting, groceries, offerings, extra plane tickets and clothing.

In Philadelphia, the family stays at a Ronald McDonald House when possible but in hotels at other times. Krista had to give up her job at Cabarrus Women’s Center to help with her daughter’s care.

The couple also have a son, Isaiah.

The April 1 walk will be in the Laurel Park neighborhood of Concord. The check-in and postwalk activities will be at Crossroads Church, 220 George W. Liles Parkway. Check-in and same-day registration starts at 10 a.m.; the walk starts at 11 a.m.

A family walk is $50; adult walk, $20; and child walk, $15.

Registration includes one T-shirt per person, as long as supplies last. Extra shirts are $15 each.

There also will be live music, a silent auction, a bounce house, face painting, food and other vendors.

The fundraiser is organized and conducted by Team Player Inc.

“Our mission at Team Player is to spread the power of teamwork by helping families and organizations in need,” part owner Scott Wauters said. “We organize events to help raise money for whatever they need it for.

“Our message to families, schools, churches, communities and corporations is ‘WeB4Me,’ because everyone wins when We comes B4 Me.”

To register for the walk or make a donation before April 1, go to www.teamplayerinc.org. For more information, contact Wauters at wauters@ctc.net.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

Comments

BREAKING NEWS

Kannapolis Police searching for suspect who fled scene of homicide

Education

RSS superintendent talks district’s future, strategic plan survey

News

Complaints and fines pile up against unpermitted landfill in southwest Rowan County

College

Catawba baseball: Crowd comes out to say goodbye to Newman Park

Lifestyle

History is a great teacher: Farming has helped shape Rowan County

Business

‘A safe place for them’: Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things celebrates fifth anniversary

China Grove

County will hear request for more tree houses, hobbit-style homes in China Grove

Coronavirus

Livingstone College partners with Health Department to administer 500 Pfizer vaccinations

Education

‘Elite and it shows’: Staff at Partners in Learning at Novant celebrate news of national accreditation

Business

Biz Roundup: Food Lion earns Energy Star award for 20th consecutive year

Columns

Ester Marsh: What body type are you?

Nation/World

The queen says goodbye to Philip, continues her reign alone

Nation/World

Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million

Nation/World

US, China agree to cooperate on climate crisis with urgency

Nation/World

Sikh community calls for gun reforms after FedEx shooting

High School

North Rowan romps into second round of football playoffs

Nation/World

FBI had interviewed former FedEx employee who killed eight

Crime

Gastonia man sentenced for crash into restaurant that killed his daughter, daughter-in-law

Nation/World

Some call for charges after video of police shooting 13-year-old in Chicago

Business

State unemployment rate falls to 5.2% in March

Coronavirus

NASCAR approach to virus vaccine varies greatly

News

Judge rejects Cherokee challenge against new casino in Kings Mountain

Elections

Jackson tops NC Senate fundraising; Walker coffers also full

Local

Kiwanis Pancake Festival serves thousands of flapjacks for charity