Legacy of Cancer-Stricken Teen Inspires Participants, Volunteers for Upcoming Fundraiser

For Immediate Release
Michelle McGhee, Regional Manager, Development
(240) 235-2210 | michelle.mcghee@curesearch.org

Family of Alisa Finley to take part in children’s cancer research event

Commerce City, CO – As a rising junior at Colby High School in Colby, Kan., 16-year-old Alisa Finley spent the summer of 2012 training for the school dance team. She often felt weak, but attributed her fatigue to the hours spent at dance camp. She also felt unusual pressure in her ears, which a doctor ascribed to a run-of-the-mill sinus infection. On July 26, 2012, Alisa underwent a CT scan after losing the vision in her right eye. The results of the scan explained her strange symptoms and brought a grim diagnosis: stage-four glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), one of the many brain tumors that comprise 18% of cancer diagnoses in children and adolescents.

“I watched her fight, but she was always smiling,” says Carena Sheldon, Alisa’s cousin. Despite grueling treatments, cancer would not keep Alisa from her dreams: She made a 48-item bucket list that gave her reasons to smile and tackled her joy one task at a time: Jetting off to Paris (#6), trying all 34 varieties of cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory (#13), having a pie war at school (#19), paying for a shopping trip with pennies (#28), and jumping into a swimming pool fully clothed (#46).

Her journey captured the support of well-wishers all over the world, including that of Hollywood heartthrob Channing Tatum, who fulfilled the #1 item on her bucket list when he sent her a kiss in an online video.

But even as she delighted in exciting pleasures, Alisa faced a difficult journey that included intensive chemotherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, grand mal seizures, blood clots, and more than 14 pills a day.

Meanwhile, Carena watched her cousin’s experience and began to understand just how many other children and teens were facing similar battles: “I started learning about the facts of childhood cancer and was in total disbelief about the number of kids who have to face cancer. Even worse is the number of parents who are burying kids who never had the opportunity to finish, or even start, school.”

Alisa graduated with the Colby High School Class of 2014, despite beginning palliative care earlier that year. She succumbed to her illness on September 23, 2014, and although some items on her bucket list were left incomplete, Alisa managed to fulfill perhaps her most important wish of all: #17 – “Give people a reason to remember me.”

Carena will remember her cousin’s legacy during Colorado Superheroes Unite!, to be held at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Co., on October 1, 2017. The fundraiser, which benefits CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, is a day of fun for children battling cancer (the superheroes) and those who love them (the sidekicks). The event also pays tribute to the forever heroes (like Alisa) who passed away after courageous bouts with the disease.

Team AlisaTeam Alisa

“I participate in the CureSearch event every year, and I plan to do so for many years to come,” Carena says, noting the value that the Commerce City community can provide in participating and volunteering at the upcoming Colorado Superheroes Unite! program. “Unfortunately, a lot of people are unaware that childhood cancer is so common. If people don’t step up, raise awareness, and raise money for research, nothing will ever change.”

To register or to learn more about SuperHeroes Unite! and the other CureSearch programs that aid in funding children’s cancer research, visit curesearch.org/Fundraise.


CureSearch for Children’s Cancer

CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, a national nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, Md, works to end childhood cancer by driving targeted and innovative research with measurable results in an accelerated time frame. CureSearch is building a $10 million research pipeline to aggressively drive pediatric research grants and clinical trials that have a higher chance of becoming cures for children’s cancer without the toxic side effects that plague current treatment options.

For more information, visit curesearch.org or www.curesearchsuperheroes.org, follow CureSearch on Twitter @curesearch or join the conversation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/curesearch.

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