Coal Valley, Ill. (KWQC) - A childhood cancer foundation held a walk at Niabi Zoo on Sunday to raise money for families whose children have been diagnosed with cancer.
Quad Citians walked and donated hair at the Walk By Faith event to raise money for local families touched by childhood cancer. (KWQC)
The Addi’s Faith Foundation put on the “Walk By Faith” event where people could also donate their hair to Locks of Love.
Addi’s parents said they lost their daughter 12 years ago to an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor in her brain. She was almost 2-years-old when she passed away.
“In her honor, we started Addi’s Faith Foundation to support pediatric cancer research and also help families dealing with a cancer diagnosis during that difficult time,” said Addi’s mom Amber Bender.
Amber and Tony Bender used to live in the Quad Cities. They traveled all the way from Houston to give back to QCA families dealing with a childhood cancer diagnosis.
“It’s not as rare as people like to think. One in 300 children will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime,” said Amber.
She said Addi was a sweet girl who always had a smile on her face despite her challenges.
“She went through a lot in her short little life --- multiple surgeries, brain surgeries, spine surgeries and chemotherapy. The treatments she was treated with were extremely toxic and really harsh. That’s why we are trying to fund research. So not only we can find that cure, but we want safer treatments for these children because they are extremely toxic.”
September is an important month to the Benders because it is childhood cancer awareness month.
“We want September to go gold everywhere in the United States and in the world so everyone recognizes how important childhood cancer awareness month is for the month of September,” said Tony. “Let’s get the ball rolling and raise more money.”
People at the event were able to raise over $20,000. The Benders said the money that was raised will stay local and go towards families touched by childhood cancer in the Quad Cities.
Brandi Dixon raised $1,000 by volunteering to donate her hair at the event.
“I’ve had long hair for quite a few years. This is probably my third time donating my hair for kids wigs,” Dixon said. “This was a new thing that came up and they wanted to do it for Addi’s Faith. Right away everyone said you have to do it. And I did it.”
Dixon said her father passed away from a cancer similar to Addi’s.
“To watch your child go through it… I can’t even imagine,” she said. “I watched my father go through it. His tumor was very similar to Addi’s. It took his life within less than three months.”
Addi’s parents said they want everyone to gold for childhood cancer awareness.
“We want to make the same amount of progress that breast cancer has made over the years. They’ve done a great job and have very successful treatments now. A lot of that started with awareness.”
This is the second year the Benders put on the Walk By Faith event. Addi’s parents hope to come back and continue it every year for the community.