Mar 27, 2014
12:38 PM
Health & Wellness

After Battling Cancer, Madison Girl Helps Dreams of Others Come True

After Battling Cancer, Madison Girl Helps Dreams of Others Come True

Make A Wish Connecticut sent Sierra Preveza and her family on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.

At 7, Sierra Preveza is already showing philanthropic prowess. She and her sister, Emalena Preveza, 9, created their own non-profit (with the help of their mother, Kim Preveza) called Childhood Cancer Kids in January. As the name suggests, their primary goal is to raise money and support for children with cancer.

It’s a mission that’s very close to the young philanthropist’s heart because she is one of them.

Sierra, who lives in Madison, was diagnosed with kidney cancer on June 4, 2012, when she was 5 years old. The stage 2 Wilms’ tumor was removed at Boston Children’s Hospital on June 6, 2012.

The diagnosis was a shock for the family, but Preveza says today they’re feeling blessed. Sierra finished her six months of chemotherapy last year, right before the family took a trip to London for the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter in August, courtesy of Make a Wish Connecticut (MWF) – a memorable experience for the entire family.

Sierra now gets tested every other month, and Preveza says all of her test results look good.

Read more about the Preveza's trip in this New Haven Register article from January. 

“We’re lucky we caught it as soon as we did,” says Preveza. “We’ve been through a lot and also been blessed and lucky. The whole family wanted to do more.”

With Childhood Cancer Kids, they're doing much more. The organization has three missions– to shine a light on Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, to raise money for organizations committed to childhood cancer research, advocacy and support and to promote yoga as a method for calming stress during treatments.

The non-profit will make its first charitable donation to Make a Wish Connecticut at the “Evening of Wishes” Gala at Mohegan Sun on Saturday (March 29).

The voice of the UConn Huskies, a host on WTIC NewsTalk 1080 and Sports Anchor at NBC Connecticut Joe D’Ambrosio will be joined by NBC Connecticut anchor Kerri-Lee Mayland as co-hosts this year. (More on the gala below.)

The Prevezas hope to provide a check for $10,000 (the average cost of a wish), in order to pay it forward in return for the wish granted to Sierra. More than  $7,000 has been raised so far, says Preveza.

Check their progress and donate here. 

Sierra and Emalena will be celebrated at the gala for the work they’re doing to help other children.

“Sierra is taking childhood cancer and turning it into a bigger dream for her life,” says MWF Communications and Media Relations Manager Michael Dominick. “We thought, 'Isn’t this exactly what we’re trying to do? Let’s make her a star of the event.''”

Sierra and Emalena will make a speech at the gala, and Preveza says they’re very excited about the dinner and dancing.

In a phone interview on Wednesday afternoon, Sierra recited a few lines of what she plans to say. Having her wish granted taught her “we can dream big, and nothing can stop us from dreaming.”

Sierra is taking that dream to the limits with Childhood Cancer Kids. Her mother says she and her sister keep coming up with new ideas.

After the gala, they will turn their focus to the awareness component. The girls’ school, Jeffrey Elementary, has pledged to do something in honor of the childhood cancer in September. Preveza hopes other schools will sign on as well.

(Jeffrey Elementary contributed $2,000 to Childhood Cancer Kids for Make a Wish Connecticut.)

The team behind Childhood Cancer Kids (which includes a growing number of board members) will also put an emphasis on yoga, which helped Sierra through her chemotherapy treatments. Preveza, a yoga and Pilates instructor, began teaching the methods to her children when they were babies. Throughout treatments, Sierra would use yoga breathing exercises to calm herself down. (Right, Sierra and Emalena Preveza in London.)

They are currently working with the Yale School of Management on yoga fundraisers and competitions, says Preveza.

“We want to start pushing out to yoga studios and use yogathons as one of our major avenues of fundraisers,” says Preveza.

They hope to host many yoga thons throughout the month of September to unite their yoga, awareness and fundraising goals.

According to the website, the yoga goal will eventually include videos, books, audio CDs, yoga mats and yoga teacher training for children with cancer.

It has been a whirlwind couple of months for the young girls – they only incorporated their nonprofit at the beginning of the year – but the sisters couldn’t be more excited. There’s much more to come from these two and from Childhood Cancer Kids.

Tickets are still available for the “An Evening of Wishes” Gala at Mohegan Sun this Saturday, beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets begin at $200 and include dinner, dancing and auctions, and can be purchased online.

Contact me by email at khartman@connecticutmag.com and follow me on Twitter, and connect with Connecticut Magazine on Twitter, on Facebook and on Google +

 

 

After Battling Cancer, Madison Girl Helps Dreams of Others Come True

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