Effort is in memory of the giving spirit of an 8-year-old
By Meagan McGone
VIERA - On Aug. 3, 2005, Christine Martin learned the unimaginable: Her 6-year-old daughter, Alicia, had a tumor growing on her brainstem. Alicia was given 12 to 18 months to live.
"The focus of my life changed," Ms. Martin said. "Every moment became more precious. We knew our time together was limited - so limited that the doctors were able to put a number on it.
"Twelve months," she added. "Only one more Christmas, one more new year, one more birthday and one last summer. I wanted to treasure each second, to capture each memory and to store up enough for the lifetime I would spend without Alicia."
Meanwhile, Ms. Martin, a Viera resident, sought answers for treating her daughter's tumor, a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, which affects about 200 children per year.
"All the while, the clock was ticking," Ms. Martin said. "Every moment counted, and I resented the time I was forced to spend away from Alicia. If there had been one place where I could have found all the information I needed, think of the time that could have been saved."
Alicia lost her battle a little more than 17 and a half months after her diagnosis, at the age of 8. Since then, Ms. Martin has devoted her life to helping children and their families, suffering with the same disease through the nonprofit Just One More Day for Love, Hope & a Cure.
"Through Just One More Day, other parents, medical professionals and I are laboring together to provide information and support for families affected by diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, to promote awareness and to fund research for a cure," she said.
Every year since Ms. Martin founded the nonprofit, Just One More Day has held a toy drive to honor children battling cancer - a gesture that honored Alicia's benevolence, as she often shared her toys in the hospital with other patients. Last year, more than 400 toys were collected and distributed to pediatric cancer patients at Florida Hospital and Arnold Palmer Hospital on Dec. 23, the day Alicia passed away, said Amber Rogers, Alicia's aunt and a member of the planning committee for Just One More Day.
"Christine wanted to carry on Alicia's giving spirit and decided to donate these gift to other children with cancer, despite having three young children at home," Mrs. Rogers said. "During the time that Christine was helping Alicia battle cancer, she was pregnant. Just before Alicia passed away, Christine gave birth to a baby girl who was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Today, Christine is a single mother caring for three beautiful daughters, including a daughter with special needs Down syndrome. And every year, Just One More Day has carried on this tradition."
But this year, Ms. Martin learned she had another battle to fight with cancer, and this time, it was in herself.
As a result, she was unable to organize Just One More Day's annual festival that usually kicks off the toy drive.
Upon hearing these unfortunate circumstances, a local business offered its support to continue this impactful cause. The World of Beer at the Avenue Viera has teamed up with Just One More Day to celebrate National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and collect toys for children battling cancer. On Friday, Sept. 28, from 6 p.m. to midnight, World of Beer at The Avenue Viera will give 10 percent of its sales to Just One More Day.
Guests are asked to bring one new, unwrapped toy to the event to bring Christmas cheer to a pediatric cancer patient. World of Beer will also accept toys throughout September.
Gifts for the toy drive will continue to be collected by Just One More Day until Dec. 22.
For more information, to volunteer or donate, visit www.justonemoreday.org or contact Christine Martin at (321) 698-8538 or firstname.lastname@example.org