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Ava Sophia Leukemia Warrior Fund

$19,291 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 290 people in 8 months
Created December 13, 2018
Ava has suffered a 5th Leukemic relapse.  Her leukemia is a beast and has spread to her bone marrow which is now 76% full of cancer. Ava needs all of the prayers we can give. In fact, Ava needs a miracle! I have had so many people reach out to me to ask how they can help. Well here is how! Let us help Melissa and Chuck and their family enjoy this holiday season with Ava without any financial worries. They are spending multiple days a week at Hopkins now. The gas, the food, the parking, special treats for Ava, etc. all add up so quickly. Also, the new year is about to begin which means a new deductible will have to be met. Finances are the last thing they should have to think about right now. If you would like, please make a donation to the family that will go directly to them to help with all of their needs and medical bills. Every little bit helps and no donation is too small! Please feel free to share as well. Thank you in advance for your love, your support, and most of all your prayers!
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FREE...

My silence recently isn't due to sorrow. Don't get me wrong, the quiet in my own house now, is heavy, but typically when I get down and begin to miss my girl more than my heart can bear, I remind myself that Ava is in a better place. That given the choice she would never, ever want to return to her broken body and now, she is finally Free and at total Peace. I know this with every ounce and fiber in my being and knowing this truth helps bring comfort amidst the sadness which at times is overwhelming.

3 weeks ago, my boys went and each got a tattoo in Ava's honor and memory. At the time, I wanted to join them but, couldn't decide what I wanted. Nate had one of Ava's handwritten notes to him tattoo'd on his chest and Riley had her date of birth in roman numerals and a dove tattoo'd on the inside of his arm. On Tuesday, my my mom and I went and she watched as I had the word Free, tattoo'd on my wrist.

I chose the word free for a few reasons. First, because Ava asked me to set her "free." Secondly, as a reminder that she is "free." And third, because in Christ, we are all set free, free from the bondage of sin and shame, free from the fear of death, we are free.

This coming Saturday, August 17, 2019 at 10:30 a.m., we will be celebrating Ava's life at Mountain Christian Church's New Life Center; it's the large building on the lower lot while the church is on the upper lot. The NLC is located at 1824 Mountain Road in Joppa MD and I invite you to come as you are and join us in celebrating Ava. I know many of you will be traveling with end of summer vacations, some live out of state and can't make it and some may live in another country so, Ava's celebration will also be live streamed to my Facebook page.

I would ask any and all prayer warriors to please be in prayer over the next few days. Please lift Clayton, his wife Jamie and their daughter Arabelle up in prayer. Prayer for peace, protection and traveling graces. Pray the Holy Spirit gives Clayton the words to speak, clarity of mind and joy for the day. Please continue to pray for me and my family and for those who will be traveling long distances to be with us. Every detail of this celebration has been carefully planned and chosen specifically to honor Ava and also to honor God. For those of you who remember my post about the movie I Can Only Imagine, please be in prayer because more than anything, Ava girl wanted her daddy to know Jesus and I am praying Chuck will attend.

Also, many of you have asked where to make donations in Ava's honor in lieu of flowers. At this time, Ava's medical and end of life expenses are fully covered and we ask that nothing further would be donated. There is a local organization that does an amazing job of funding pediatric cancer research called the CCF. This is also the organization where I spoke on stage with Ava 2 years ago. If you would like to send donations in Ava's honor there, here is the link:

https://childrenscancerfoundation.org/donate/

St. Jude is another worthy place for donations and also Make A Wish, who gave Ava the most incredible vacation at Atlantis. Here is Make-A-Wish's MidAtlantic donation link:

https://secure2.wish.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=donate_now&chid=016-000

To the many of you who have supported our family financially, THANK YOU! To CeCe Picone and all of her friends who held Ava's Lemonade Stand, we send a very heartfelt, THANK YOU! What a blessing these children and so many have been in our time of great need. Thank you also for the continued prayers, love and support. I do read each and appreciate every single message I receive.

Much Love and God Bless,

Melissa~
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The Gift.....

The "quiet" in my home as I sit in the dining room surrounded by gifts all sent to my beautiful daughter is deafening. Gifts Ava was never able to open because she was so sick while inpatient at Hopkins. Gifts I thought she would open when she returned home, only now, her memory lives here, not her body. And as I sort through the gifts deciding which friend or cousin should receive something special or which organization I can donate too, my mind wanders back to, "The Gift" in which God gave me just a few weeks before Ava passed.

Most of my memories from the last 5+ months are nightmares, but there was one single Sunday afternoon in July where God reached down, touched Ava for just a few short hours and during that brief time, I had my sweet and silly little girl back. It had been a quiet Sunday morning with just me and Ava. Riley was on his way to visit and it seemed as soon as he arrived, Ava perked up and within minutes, was asking to go downstairs. Now, Ava hadn't been out of her bed in weeks, so just trying to lift her body out of bed into a wheelchair that could recline, would almost be an act of God. But when Ava's nurse Emily heard the request, she went on a mission. On a mission to find a comfortable wheelchair we could take Ava downstairs in. On a mission to get Ava girl out of her bed and into different and better surroundings.

I grabbed a little pair of shorts and a t-shirt along with a hat which would cover the large dressing on Ava's head from where her Ommaya had been removed and quickly dressed her; (Ava refused the tee and instead insisted on a blanket). A few moments later Emily walked back into our room along with Erin; (another nurse we have known for years and also love) and a large, reclining chair on wheels. There was no proper wheelchair to be found, so these women, determined to make Ava's wish to get downstairs happen, went to the storage closet and found the perfect ride for Ava and I do mean perfect. When you have incredible nurses on a mission, there is no stopping them!

I lifted Ava into the reclined chair and she smiled up at me. I hadn't seen a smile in so long that I stood there, frozen for a minute. Emily attached a monitor so we could watch and make sure Ava's oxygen levels remained strong while Riley wheeled the oxygen tank; which definitely had a mind of its own. Because the reclining chair was so large, we took the transport elevators downstairs and our first stop was the Jesus statue. Since it was a weekend, the halls of Hopkins normally bustling with people were silent and our walk was leisure and thankfully, we had the Jesus statue all to ourselves. We stood there in silence, the three of us with Ava and I wondered if this was the last time we would visit the Jesus statue and prayed it wasn't.

After a few minutes, Ava wanted to visit the large gift shop and so we did and it was pure bliss. Ava giggled and laughed as she was wheeled around in the large chair. She tried on sparkling rings and when I offered to buy her any ring she wanted, she politely declined, telling me she had more than enough; which was true, she did have more than enough. We looked at snacks and everyone picked out something to take back to the room. Even Emily had to pick a snack because Ava wouldn't have it any other way. If Ava was getting a snack, then Emily had to get a snack too.

We ended our adventure outside on the patio near Balducci's as Ava laid back in the sun and tilted her head towards heaven. There was a look of peace that covered over her and I remember all I could do was thank God for giving us this gift, this moment, in the midst of what had become a terrible storm. For 2 hours, I had my little girl back. I heard her giggle and laugh, saw smiles dance on her lips and I will treasure those 2 hours until the day I die. That day felt like a small piece of heaven and today, I can only imagine the laughter, smiles and dancing my girl is doing...

Many say gifts come in all shapes and sizes. To me, life is the most precious gift of all and one we often take for granted. Don't miss out on the gifts or miracles that come when you least expect them. Seize those moments no matter how fleeting they may be, revel in them, cherish them always...

Much Love and God Bless,

Melissa~
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From Ava’s sweet brother, Nathan:

Today, at 4:48 a.m., Heaven gained the most beautiful angel, as Ava was called home to be with God. Ava felt no pain, and was surrounded by her mom, grandmother, and myself as she took her last breaths while sleeping.

For the last 10 years I have always thought about what would happen if the day came where Ava was finally called home. I’ve lived with regret, knowing that my family has always done everything possible to keep Ava alive on Earth, but knowing that none of us could trade places with her and take her pain away no matter how bad we wanted to. Her zest for life was truly unmatched and she deserved so much more than what she got.

I have always wanted to trade places with Ava, and getting the opportunity to be her stem cell donor for her second bone marrow transplant finally seemed like the time I would be able to fully contribute to helping her beat this terrible cancer, once and for all. Our family knew that going into this transplant, Ava ran the risk of serious complications, but Ava, being the fighter that she was said “if we can try to get rid of the [cancer] cells, I’m in.” And a fighter Ava was. Not many people have battled cancer with such intensity, achieving six remissions, over 10 years. Ava was a miracle in the medical book, for a long time, she defied all odds, some of the most insurmountable come backs, and just when Ava should have been counted out, when her back was against the wall multiple times, she fought back, proving that God does work miracles, but for those miracles to happen you must have Faith and patience.

In the end, God answered our family’s prayers and has healed Ava, just not in the way that we had hoped. Ava’s battle with cancer was not lost, Ava and our family won every battle when we decided to fight back, not give up or lose hope. And although our family is broken and shattered, we know that Ava’s battered and broken body is now completely healed. She will never have to endure the pain or suffering that she did over the last 10 years.

Today, our family is crushed, we will never see Ava’s beautiful smile, or hear her perfect laugh on this Earth again. There is a hole missing in our hearts that will never be replaced. Trips to the beach, or any vacation will never be the same. We can only hope that Ava is always watching us from above, smiling down, knowing that we will all be together again one day.

Today, we finished this journey the same way that we started, together as a family. You have made me the proudest big brother and have taught me more than you will ever know. It hurts to know that I will never see you graduate high school, go to prom, start your first job, graduate college, or get married and start a family. But I know that you are better in Heaven now, than you would be here, and I can’t wait to see you again.

I love you always Ava girl, we all do.
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$19,291 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 290 people in 8 months
Created December 13, 2018
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