"My cancer experience has prepared me for
college by helping me decide that I would like to
go to medical school. I want to become a
pediatric oncologist and help other children in the
same way I was helped as a young child. This
may sound like a cliché, but I truly believe that
this is my calling. My mother jokes that I will
need to get over my tender heartedness and at
least try to trim my dog's nails prior to going to
medical school and working on people. This I
will do, as being a cancer specialist would allow
me to help children receive the same great care
and treatment so that they can one day be as
fortunate as I am."

The Kyle Lee Foundation, Inc.
Mike Keenan
Buckley Parker
"Personal health and the ability to live a normal life are often taken for granted, especially
in America where health care is easily accessible. A sudden change in health can radically
affect one's outlook on life. It causes one to realize that tomorrow is not a guarantee.
When I was thirteen years old, I was told that I was going to have to fight the hardest
battle of my life. Although this was traumatic and difficult, it has made me a strong,
determined young man.

Living life as if tomorrow may never come helps motivate me to live each day to the
fullest; I want to accomplish all I can today. As humans we get too wrapped up in
tomorrow, instead of focusing on what we can accomplish today. This mindset allows us
to only accomplish minimal tasks in life. After finishing the hardest year of my life, I
returned to many of the activities about which I was passionate. Sports became a very
important aspect in my life again. One characteristic that changed dramatically was my
social life. I became an extrovert, literally overnight. My friends and being with family
became a very important aspect of my healing process. Therefore, I should take the
opportunity to be with them today."

Kirsten Casasanta

Amanda Konopka
Matthew Claver

"Athletically before my event with cancer, I was
good enough to play football in college at the
wide receiver position. That was my love and
joy and I just wanted to play football. But
because of my diagnosis and the location of the
tumor, the doctors said that I would never be
able to play football again. I am pretty sure that
that was one of the only times that I cried
throughout all of this. The doctors prevented
me from playing football but I pushed them into
giving me the okay to play basketball. By
February 2007, I played in a couple of JV
basketball games and through everything my
grades have stayed at the high standards I set
for myself.

Now, I have MRIs every 3 months to check on
the tumor remnant and I make sure that I wear
my "Football is Everything" t-shirt to every
appointment. My voice is not 100% but it's
understandable and I have no problems eating.
Now I take absolutely nothing for granted
because I know that you can lose everything
that you worked your whole life for in the blink
of an eye."

Casey Altier

"Long term management is considered the
treatment regimen as opposed to a curative
prognosis. I have developed strength and courage
from this experience. I will never know whether it
was sheer numbers of supporters, the advanced
weaponry employed or simply a higher power, but
we as a team were able to keep the enemy at bay.
Although, I am not technically in remission, I have
faith that scientific research will continue to
advance and obliterate cancer. I have been
fortunate enough to gain experience as a research
intern at Children's Hospital. My personal challenge
is not over as I will pursue a career in nursing to
assist all those fighting this battle until the battle is

2008-2009 Recipients

"So many emotions have passed through my heart
over the last eight months. I have had to make
peace with life not going according to plan. I have
had to endure being alone, feeling as though I am
sitting on the sidelines as my friends are out doing
fun and exciting things, while I struggle to graduate
through on-line classes. And, I have had to learn
the most difficult of character traits: patience. I
often feel guilty at the sacrifices my family has had
to make, but at the same time, feel blessed that I
have a family so deeply committed to one another.
This "Great Adventure", I suspect, will be the
greatest challenge of my life. So what's the upside,
you may ask?

"Never do I dwell on my sickness, nor do I
wallow in the thought of taking a break from my
once normal, everyday life, to fight this disease. I
told a family friend once how I felt every time I
went to Children's, for treatment, and she replied
by saying "Kristen, your one of those kids." My
response was "It's not about me." Nowadays, I
am so very appreciative of the world around me
and so inspired by the children fighting life-
threatening illness. Lastly, just thinking about my
promising life, after I defeat this dreaded illness,
gives me the inspiration that I can conquer

For one, I have found new heroes: Brave kids who smile through the pain and suffering
of cancer treatment without complaining. It is quite impossible to feel sorry for myself in
the oncology ward at All Children's Hospital, because there is always someone next door
or down the hall who has it worse than me. My family, who would do anything for me
and who are always there at any hour. My church family, who pray for me daily, provide
meals for our family, and help out in so many ways. I have been changed by the
outpouring of love from so many."