Michael is an ordinary-looking local 10 year-old.
But Michael is quite extraordinary when it comes to courage and determination. Indeed, to many, he is a genuine superhero. For Michael is battling terminal brain cancer (DIPG).
On September 8, Michael donned a superhero costume and was the primary beneficiary and focal point for the ‘M Family’ Foundation’s annual Superhero 5K and Family Fun Run, held at Celebration’s Lakeside Park. Hundreds of local residents and community leaders, many dressed in distinctive superhero outfits, raced through the Celebration Town Center and surrounding streets. With his family by his side, Michael led the charge of the M Family Foundation’s mission to raise awareness, increase education, and provide financial support for research aimed at Ovarian and Pediatric Cancers.
Brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer death in the pediatric population. DIPG, a type of brain tumor found in an area of the brainstem know as the pons, primarily affects children, with most diagnoses occurring between 5 and 7 years of age. It makes up 10-15% of all brain tumors in children, with about 150-300 new diagnoses per year in the United States. Regretfully, researchers know very little about brainstem cancers and their treatment, thus the urgent need to study and understand them.
Among the many community organizations supporting this year’s M Family Foundation 5K were the Celebration High School Marching Band, Celebration High School Color Guard, Electro-Magic Productions, The Celebration Arts Academy, Kabloom Arts, Celebration Obstetrics & Gynecology, Celebration Pediatrics and numerous others, all of which helped create an atmosphere of excitement and hope.
Following the race the Town Tavern generously opened their doors to all who participated, including runners, vendors, volunteers and this year’s beneficiary, Michael.
Explained M Family Foundation Co-Founder Kelly McCarthy, “Whether you ran, volunteered, sponsored, or attended as a spectator, you experienced the power of people working together to show support and love to those in need. We have an incredible vision of what we can do to support women and children affected by Ovarian & Pediatric Cancer. We must stop these deadly diseases from robbing us of our women & children. The best is yet to come!”
According to the M Family Foundation, planning is already underway for next year’s Superheroes event, the 4th Annual Celebration Cancer Superhero event on Sunday, September 13, 2020. Local residents and businesses are encouraged to get involved in this very worthwhile cause. For opportunities to become part of the event committee, join as a corporate sponsor, or submit an application for a family in need, visit MFamilyFoundation.org.
By Jim Siegel
The above story appears in the November 2019 edition of the Celebration News.