Hey everyone, Dan here. I have a personal story I need to share. It’s long but important to the LivFree story…

When our daughter, Lauren, was first diagnosed and admitted everything was a whirlwind. I have a hard time remembering the chain of events, what doctors we saw, who came to visit or even how long we were there. My first memory from those first few days was one that will be fixed into my memory forever. I snuck out of Lauren’s hospital room to just go for a quick walk, I needed to get the anxiety out of me. The halls weren’t long but I couldn’t stay trapped in that room so the 353 steps (yes I counted) were a big help. As I approached Lauren’s room I saw a girl, she looked to be about 17 or so, struggling to walk even with assistance. Her head was bald and was recovering from a leg amputation. I couldn’t help but marvel at her, she was so determined to walk again. Irene was the first child I had ever seen that had cancer; well, maybe not a child. As the days went on, I built up the courage to go talk to her and learned that Irene was 20 years old and was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, which was in her leg and was now an above the knee amputee.

I also learned of two important parts of her life that had a profound impact on me: she was in the hospital for over 200 consecutive days and she was a mom. Irene had a son at a very young age and here she was in a hospital room fighting for her life and learning how to walk all over again. I could not believe how much this young woman had been through. Her strength inspired me and so many others.

Our friends, family, and local community had been so good to us right after Lauren was diagnosed with leukemia. Some great people and organizations truly rallied behind us. Money was raised, food was cooked, some bills were paid for us. Katrina and I needed to pay it forward and there was nobody more deserving than Irene who had just been released from the hospital.

We took some of the money that was raised and purchased gift cards for restaurants, movies, and a bunch of activities for her and her son to enjoy. It’s felt so good to be able to share our support with her. Months later we would officially form LivFree with the mission of providing quality family time to families battling pediatric cancer.

We recently reached out to Irene to see how she was doing. She told us that she and her family could really use a break. After a short conversation, she decided on the Kartrite Indoor Waterpark. When we tell you that this place is a world-class organization, we mean it.

From Irene: “I am so happy right now. We are having so much fun and I literally can do everything here without physical limitations. I’m enjoying myself so much that I’m not even thinking about any of the challenges going on with my health. I am so grateful. Thank you so much.”

Irene, we are grateful for you. Your strength and determination have inspired us to do our part in providing hope to families just like ours. Without you, there’s no way LivFree exists in the capacity it does now. On behalf of all the lives that have been touched, thank you. It is our absolute pleasure to have you in our LivFree family.

Please follow her complete story at Irene’s Battle

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