A rare form of childhood cancer took the life of Cal Daniel in February.
Now his family, both in St. Paul and Hastings, are helping to keep his spirit alive and bring more awareness to the cancer that killed Cal.
When the 15th annual Hastings Bridge to a Cure begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug 7, at Hastings High School, about 15 members of the Daniel, and Tim and Rochelle Leahy family of Hastings will be part of the 41 teams walking in the lower parking lot. They, as Cal's Courage Team, have already raised more than $1,000 to help fight cancer.
Rochelle Leahy has been involved with the Bridge to a Cure committee for about five years - co-chair Angie McGinnis had asked her to help, and Leahy enjoyed doing it. She helped with the kids' carnival and considered the event a wonderful one. And she walked one year in honor of her friend, Christine Gahnz. It will be even more meaningful this year.
Cal was a happy, well-adjusted 4-year-old child until last August, when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Difussedly Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). This is an inoperable tumor in the brain stem cells.
It is estimated that only about 200 people are diagnosed with this cancer each year, and only 6 to 10 percent survive. Cal did undergo some radiation treatment, but the family opted to use alternative treatment instead of chemotherapy. He died Feb. 10.
"He was falling down, so his parents took him to the doctor, and he was initially diagnosed with an inner ear infection," Leahy said. "Then, he was diagnosed with the inoperable tumor."
After Cal's death, the family, including the Leahys and their three children, Megan, Gabby and Luke, decided to participate in a Bridge to a Cure, form a team and walk the five hours of the event. Some of the children will be involved in the games of the kids' carnival, which is being held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. that night outside the school.
"This is a wonderful event," Leahy said. "It is a great event."
The event has something for everyone, a luminaria-lined walking path, music provided by djay Sound & Light, activities for the younger kids, food and beverages available for a fee, and door prizes for team members. Mayor Paul Hicks will kick off the event at 6 p.m.; that will be followed by the initial survivors' march, special guest speakers Ruth Gaylord, an ovarian cancer survivor, Daniel, and the 10 p.m. luminaria-lighting ceremony.
For more information, contact Angie McGinnis at 480-8370 or Linda Kampa at 437-6218.