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Young cancer survivor now raises money to help other child cancer victims

Chiara Simeoni loves math, gymnastics and the trampoline.

The 11-year-old wants to be a cancer researcher when she grows up; her dream is to find "cures for cancer for kids and stuff," she said.

Chiara knows what it's like to have cancer as a kid. She had a brain tumor and had to get two surgeries to remove it. Now, with her cancer in remission, the sixth-grader at Safety Harbor Middle School continues to fight for kids like her by fundraising.

She was one of three Pinellas students recently recognized by the Pinellas County School District with a Young Heroes award for overcoming adversities and giving back to the community.

Chiara was 3 years old when she had her first surgery, and her last in third grade. Yet, she is upbeat about her last ordeal.

"I had to stay home for a month. It was boring at home, I had nothing to do and all my friends were at school," she said. "I was pretty lucky I only had to do two surgeries. There are kids out there who had to do harder things like chemo and stuff."

For three years, Chiara has helped raise money for Ride for Kids, a fundraiser that supports the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. She has also participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life for two years.

"I want to raise money for a better cure so these kids don't have to suffer," she said.

As for herself, Chiara says little stops her from doing what she likes.

"Every six months, I have to get MRIs to make sure it doesn't come back. Other than that I don't have to watch what I do," she said. "I am not really limited on what I can do now."

For information about Relay for Life go to relayforlife.org.

Young Heroes award

When: Started in 2007

Award: a $500 Savings Bond provided by Bob McIntyre, chairman and CEO of DITEK:

Other winners: Chanel Torres, 22, Richard L. Sanders School in Pinellas Park thought her stuttering would never allow her to speak publicly. But it's now part of the presentations she gives across the county on fetal alcohol syndrome, or FAS. "I learned that my audience needs to see the stuttering," she said. "(My) mother drank when she was pregnant with me. That is where the stuttering is from."

Hailey Scheinman, Leila G. Davis Elementary Clearwater. The first-grader uses her creative skills to design paintings and jewelry under the name "Art by Hailey" to auction off on eBay to raise funds for her twin sister Olivia. A special needs student at Paul B. Stephens School, Olivia requires therapy that medical insurance does not cover.

Young cancer survivor now raises money to help other child cancer victims 04/21/12 [Last modified: Saturday, April 21, 2012 2:34pm]
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