“We do not have control over the journey which is chosen for us, but we do have control over how we travel it.”

- Kira’s Mother, Shamika

If you have ever met Kira, you will remember her for a lifetime! The Runway to Hope team had the pleasure of meeting Kira during the 2017 Beauty and Boys Bash at Bloomingdales in April and we have since fell madly in love with her! Kira is such a bright spirit and there is no doubt when you hear, “Hey Giirrrllll!”, that it is her walking down the hospital hallways smiling and laughing. This 11 year old is no stranger to a good prank and her family describes her as being rambunctious, smart and funny! Kira is very creative and can innovate on the fly with her cooking and master duct tape skills. She also loves playing soccer and basketball. Kira once aspired to play competitively prior to her cancer diagnosis, but now has a passion to become a pediatrician that specializes in oncology to help other children like her.

This amazing young lady was diagnosed with Metastatic Ewing Sarcoma in early December of 2016. What appeared to be growing pains, was the result of something far more devastating. Her mother took her to a night time clinic because she was experiencing mild pain that escalated to being unable to walk within a week’s time. The doctor’s discovered that Kira had a tumor the size of a chicken breast in her leg. Since diagnosis, Kira has endured over 20 rounds of chemotherapy and her family is hopeful they do not need radiation pending her continued scan results. Kira has had a very special procedure on her leg called prosthetic limb sparing surgery, which is a latter procedure that replaced all of Kira’s damaged bone with a prosthetic device inside of her leg. This is in lieu of a traditional amputation.

Initially, cancer, as one would suspect, completely turned Kira’s life upside down. When her mother noticed that Kira was becoming withdrawn and depressed, she knew she had to do something! She made posters with positive sayings to hang up in her hospital room and would have Kira repeat mantras to keep her spirit up! Her favorite one being “Better Not Bitter!” “This saying was birthed when I told Kira that we do not have control over the journey which is chosen for us, but we do have control over how we travel it” said her mom. Kira’s tenacity and endurance during this fight is what her mother is the most proud of throughout this journey. “Kira is braver than I ever knew and stronger than I ever could be! I really think she has become my role model.” Since Kira’s mother had to quit her job because of the active treatment schedule, she decided to start homeschooling Kira. This made a huge change in their family dynamic, but was a positive one since diagnosis. Kira skipped the 6th grade and is now halfway completed with 7th grade. Her mom expects her to graduate 8th grade by next summer. Kira has made leaps and bounds with her education and has not let cancer slow her down! Her brother even started homeschooling with his younger sister. He didn’t want to be a threat to her by him passing school germs to her weakened immune system.

Ewing Sarcoma is a type of cancer that most often occurs in and around the bones. Metastatic means that the cancer spread from an initial or primary site to a secondary site. Consequently, Kira’s cancer started and spread to various parts of her leg. Ewing Sarcoma is mostly found in children and young adults. It often begins in the legs or bones of the pelvis or arms. About 70% of children with Ewing sarcoma are cured. Teens aged 15 to 19 have a lower survival rate, which is approximately 56%. These statistics are only that, statistics. Each of these amazing children, including Kira, are fighters and will continue to beat this disease one step at a time.

Shamika says that Runway to Hope has been a huge blessing in their lives. When the family was first introduced to the opportunity of Kira walking in the show, she did not expect her to agree, but she did and the transformation began! Her family maintains that Runway to Hope initiated the rebirth of Kira! She blossomed and started to embrace the changes she had endured and discovered a beauty within herself that she had not recognized before. Kira began loving and fighting for herself. At the Spring Fashion Soiree, she absolutely loved walking the runway and enjoyed the backstage meet and greets. She lavished in the excitement of walking the stage with Bo Outlaw. She was a real star on that stage and loved every minute of it.

Kira’s family received aid from the Runway to Hope Family Assistance Program this year to help their family make ends meet. Shamika says it allowed them to replace a portion of the income lost when she resigned from her job and relieved some of the financial stress for their family. Not only did Kira have many surgeries and treatments, the family was driving two hours one way to Nemours Children’s Hospital as well as seeing an orthopedic surgeon in Tampa. All of these expenses add up quickly and that is when Runway to Hope assisted. Kira wants to share with all future and present donors that your donation matters! This small act of kindness has a big impact on families like hers and she appreciates all of the help. The Runway to Hope team cannot wait for Kira to walk across the stage again shining like the bright star that she is.

Runway to Hope / 189 South Orange Avenue, Suite 1800 / Orlando, FL 32801 / 407.802.1544