Thursday May 23rd, 2024 3:13AM

Homer cancer survivor to be featured in Atlanta nonprofit event

By Caleb Hutchins Assistant News Director

An event in Atlanta Friday evening to raise funds for child cancer research will feature a Banks County leukemia survivor.

Rally on the Runway is being held from 7:30 to 8:00 p.m. Friday at the Georgia Aquarium. The show will feature Atlanta Falcons players, including Georgia native Grady Jarrett, walking the runway with childhood cancer survivors.

One of those survivors will be 7-year-old Bria, a Homer resident who battled AML leukemia early in life. Bria's mother, Kayla Rylee, says the family became involved with the Rally Foundation during Bria's battle.

"Rally really did a wonderful job of supporting us while we were (in inpatient care) and literally rallying around our child and our family," Rylee said. "Since then, we've stayed in touch with Rally. They are a wonderful organization."

The Rally Foundation is a nonprofit founded by Dean Crowe. She said the foundation's goal is to empower volunteers to raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer research.

"Childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of kids in America, yet a little bit less than 8% of our National Institutes of Health budget goes to fund childhood cancer research," Crowe said. "Rally exists so we can help to fund high-quality research that hopefully then will turn into a clinical trial and turn into drugs so it will be able to help kids like Bria."

Rylee said Bria was diagnosed with the illness at just three months old in 2016.

"Bria was born in April 2016, a perfectly normal, full-term delivery. Looked perfect in every way," Rylee said. "Shortly after she turned two months old, we noticed some raised spots that were called lesions, initially on her back...I ended up taking her to her pediatrician, who referred her to dermatologists for a skin biopsy. She ultimately underwent a bone biopsy, and it was determined that she had AML leukemia."

Rylee said Bria spent almost 100 days in inpatient care at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

"She had multiple bone marrow biopsies, lumbar punctures, blood transfusions, surgery," Rylee said. "She thankfully achieved remission after the first round (of treatment), and then she was officially declared off treatment in 2017."

Rylee said Bria has been in survivor clinic since age 2 and has been cancer-free since that time. She said this will be their first time actively participating in a Rally fundraising event.

"Events such as this raise money for childhood cancer research. Bria will be walking the runway with an Atlanta Falcons player, and during that show, people donate to the Rally Foundation to help raise money. People buy tickets to come see this event, there's a meal, and then there's a silent auction where people can bid to help raise money as well," Rylee said.

Donations to the Rally Foundation can be made on the organization's website. Crowe said donations can be made in the name of a cancer survivor.

"I can't think of a better one than Bria, so you could say you're making your donation in honor of Bria," Crowe said.

  • Associated Tags: Atlanta, Banks County, Atlanta Falcons, Childhood cancer, Homer, Rally Foundation
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