The Boys & Girls of the Year are local New York City children battling blood cancer, who serve as motivation and inspiration to Man & Woman of the Year candidates. The Boys & Girls of the Year represent the thousands of patients who have been helped by LLS's patient services and research.
JUSTICE WEXLER KARIHER was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) when he was nine months old. At a pediatric check-up, his doctor felt an enlarged spleen and after a blood test he was diagnosed with leukemia. Justice underwent treatments for 14 months, both in and out of the hospital. Five months later, just as he was beginning to return to a normal life, Justice relapsed. His treatments consisted of a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor. After spending almost the first three years of his life in hospitals, Justice is now in remission and recently celebrated his fifth year post transplant. Now, at the age eight, he loves computer games, Legos, reading and being the class clown.
OLIVIA LAFOND was diagnosed with AML (acute myeloid leukemia) at the age of two. She underwent numerous rounds of chemo, received two bone marrow transplants and had several surgeries. Today, at the age of five, she is in remission and cancer free. Despite everything, she maintains a joyful demeanor, which inspires all those around her. No matter how many needles, scan and physicals she endured she always had a smile on her face. Olivia loves to play dress up, sing, take photos, crack jokes and read. She is never shy about performing in front of a crowd and is usually of the first to volunteer. Olivia is a warm and bright girl who is often seen sporting a pink tutu.
LUKE SCHWENDEMAN was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at four months old and with AML (acute myeloid leukemia) at the age of five. Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the sympathetic nerve tissue, which metastasized throughout Luke's body. He underwent many experimental treatments and as a consequence, Luke developed AML when he was five years old. He went into remission in 2007 and now, at 11 years old, is doing great. Luke has always has always been a fighter and his father remarks, "he is MY hero." Luke loves baseball and has become a fixture at the Glen Rock HS varsity baseball games. He hangs out with the players and was even granted the honor of throwing out the first pitch at their season opener. Luke is an inspiration to the team and the players wish he could come to every game.
SOPHIA CASTRO was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) with the presence of the Philadelphia chromosome at the age of three. The Philadelphia chromosome makes leukemia harder to treat and Sophia was given a 1 in 3 chance of survival. She had many chemotherapy treatments, a bone marrow transplant and a mismatched umbilical cord donor transplant. Despite all of these treatments, she went into remission when she was five years old. Sophia is an energetic eight-year-old girl who loves to take photos, sing, dance, travel and play Wii. She has no siblings but a very supportive and loving big brother orange tabby cat.
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