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Stepping up the fight

Community: Theme park hosts third annual children’s cancer benefit

Posted: June 19, 2010 9:03 p.m.
Updated: June 20, 2010 4:30 a.m.

The 2010 A Walk in The Park event ambassador Aisha Iyengar, left, and Six Flags Magic Mountain President Jay Thomas count down the start of the walk to fight children’s cancer at Six Flags Magic Mountain on Saturday.

When Nathan Crookston learned he had cancer at age 11, the scared young boy didn’t think he had a chance to live.

“I didn’t know (then) that people could survive cancer,” he said. He’s been learning how to do just that ever since the diagnosis.

Crookston, 16, joined several youthful survivors amongst a crowd of about 400 supporters who on Saturday trekked across Six Flags Magic Mountain for the third annual A Walk in the Park to raise funds for children’s cancer research.

Participants took off at the starting line with a spirited charge forward from walk ambassador Aisha Iyengar, who survived a cancer that attacked her eyes and vision.

“Let’s do it,” she said over the microphone.

More than 10,000 children receive a cancer diagnosis annually. But as the walkers made their way around Magic Mountain, they shared a sense of purpose. The 10 red-shirted survivors, who stood out in the crowd of white shirts, personified hope.

With the progression of cutting-edge research, the survival rate for children’s cancer has reached 80 percent, said Lisa Coleman, assistant director of Children’s Miracle Network.

“I believe that we will be able to cure children’s cancer before I die,” said Park President Jay Thomas.

This year’s local walk is expected to bring in upwards of $50,000 for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles when all donations are counted, said park spokeswoman Sue Carpenter. Combined with parks across the country, Six Flags raised $400,000 for children’s cancer research this year, Thomas said.

For Nathan’s mother, Kymmer Crookston, the Magic Mountain walk — and others like it — provide a tangible ground to battle for others like her son.

“It gives me an arena to fight cancer in,” she said. “I have a need to fight cancer.”

Nathan endured a year of chemotherapy and three surgeries in his fight against Ewing sarcoma.  He was reminded of one important fact as he took his loop around the park.

“I’m not dead,” he said. “I’m a five-year survivor and four years in remission.”



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