By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen

1,000 reasons to smile

By Katie Hart Smith
Staff Correspondent

The Amanda Riley Foundation is giving pediatric patients who are battling cancer and their families 1,000 reasons to smile.

Rocio Turcios190The Georgia-based non-profit organization, established by Steve and Barbara Riley, lovingly honors their seventeen year old daughter, Amanda, who fought bravely for 405 days before passing away on April 9. 2010. “Our focus is on smiles; we want to try to do something today to bring a smile to a child’s face. To be their little ray of sunshine as Amanda was for me,” said Barbara Riley.

Right: Rocio Turcios received $1000.00 reasons to smile on behalf of the Amanda Riley Foundation. She was provided with a cell phone and paid service for a year.

According to the AFLAC Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, over 12,500 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer annually. Of those children, approximately 400 live in Georgia. The rate of childhood cancer has steadily increased over the decades per the American Cancer Society. 

The American Academy of The American Academy of Pediatrics defines cancer as a group of abnormal cells that lump together and form a tumor. Sometimes cancer cells break away from the original tumor and “metastasize” or spread to other parts of the body. Cancer is identified by its site of origin and the type of cell. The cause of pediatric cancer is largely unknown although genetics and environmental factors can play a contributing factor. 
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Working closely with the AFLAC Cancer Center at CHOA at Scottish Rite, the Riley family dedicates their time and talent to work with the medical staff, patients, and families to help others in need while working diligently in the community to raise funds, supplies, and awareness.

With no overhead or salaries, the Amanda Riley Foundation has four branches of philanthropic service and provides support in a myriad of ways to include: granting patient’s wishes valued up to $1,000; funding $25,000 annually for a fellowship for Rhabdomyosarcoma research; supplying meals, snacks, and goodie baskets to the patients/families at the AFLAC Cancer Center at CHOA at Scottish Rite; and distributing toiletry care packages, clothing, and gift cards. In addition, the organization works with CHOA to fund, develop, and maintain a plan for fertility preservation. 

Amanda Riley190Did you know? Every day, approximately forty-three children are diagnosed with cancer; the average patient is six years old. Cancer affects all genders, socio-economic, and ethnic groups. (Source: CureSearch)

Left: Amanda Riley

2015 Buford High School’s Homecoming Queen and eighteen year old cancer warrior, Rocio Turcios said, “From the beginning it is set in stone that nobody's journey through this horrible disease is going to be easy. But the Amanda Riley Foundation have been and always will be the greatest blessing to all the families of children battling cancer, and my family included because they have made our journey a little easier. The Amanda Riley Foundation has helped lift my spirit up with all the wonderful things Mrs. Barbara has done by throwing a Christmas breakfast with presents! The meals in AFLAC at the hospital every Tuesday and Thursday, this amazing carnival, and even with the little things of sending meaningful and helpful gifts in the mail. I am very grateful for this foundation and for Mrs. Barbara for being the greatest god mother for all her children she helps.”

There are three major events hosted by the Amanda Riley Foundation annually: Carnival 4 A Cause; Miles 4 Smiles; and Gala for Gold. The first annual Carnival 4 A Cause was hosted by Brookwood High School (BHS) on Saturday, 4/23/16. Amanda, having attended BHS, was a competitive athlete who loved playing basketball for the school and even participated on the cross country and track and field team. BHS reached out to the Riley family and organized the fund-raising event for the community and families to enjoy. 

Mark your calendars!

Miles 4 Smiles is 5K/10K (USATF certified courses and a sanctioned event) and a mile fun run and festival to be held on Saturday, June 16, 2016 at Tribble Mill Park in Lawrenceville, Georgia. The sixth annual race/walk event and family festival will be held from 7am – 11am. The 5K and 10K participant’s fee is $35.00; the Mile Fun Run and kids under 12 years of age fee is $20.00. 

To register for Miles 4 Smiles, visit: www.amandarileyfoundation.org/miles-4-smiles-2016

Gala 4 Gold will be held on Saturday, August 27, 2016 at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast in Norcross. The semi-formal event will include dinner, dancing, and silent and live auctions. For sponsorship and ticket information, visit: www.amandarileyfoundation.org/gala-4-gold-2016

Michael Gossling, Owner, Do My Own Pest Control and Amanda Riley Foundation sponsor stated, “My family supports the Amanda Riley Foundation because I have seen the impact of childhood cancer on a family and how devastating it can be.  Many of the families battling cancer do not have the necessary support system or resources. The Amanda Riley Foundation helps to bridge that gap and gives these families smiles and hope at a time where often it seems like there is none.  Barbara Riley loves these families and when we give to the Amanda Riley Foundation we know that our donation will make another family’s day brighter and their child smile, and most of all give them hope and knowledge that they are loved and supported.” 

“The Amanda Riley Foundation is a labor of love.” Barbara Riley pointed out. “We’re small, but we serve with mighty hearts.” 

To make a donation or to learn more about the Amanda Riley Foundation, visit: www.amandarileyfoundation.org