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Valerie Fund Inspires Teens With Leukemia

Mariah Martinez and her mother (credit: Valerie Fund)

Mariah Martinez and her mother (credit: Valerie Fund)

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This coming weekend, WCBS 880 and CBS2 will be part of the Valerie Fund Walk and JAG Physical Therapy run in Verona, New Jersey. The annual event is a fundraiser for the organization which supports the comprehensive health care needs of children with cancer and blood disorder. All this week, reporter John Metaxas is looking at the people who work with the Valerie Fund and the families it supports. For more information, visit thevaleriefund.org

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - For teenagers with leukemia, there is hope, and it comes from the Valerie Fund, as WCBS 880’s John Metaxas found out.

WCBS 880’s John Metaxas With Today’s Profiles

When you listen to 19-year-old Mariah Martinez sing, you realize how much she loves it. It was when she stopped singing two years ago that her mother knew something was wrong.

“It was terrible, because Mariah was always singing,” he mother told Metaxas. “Mariah would wake up, she’d sing. Mariah would brush her teeth, she was singing, and when she stopped, I felt like my life was over.”

“I stopped singing for three months,” Mariah said.

Diagnosed with leukemia, Mariah had to go through debilitating treatments.

She lost all her hair. But now, on the other end of that, she’s telling a story of survival – one made possible, in part, by the uplifting support she got from the Valerie Fund.

“They make you feel alive. It’s hard to explain to somebody that doesn’t have cancer,” she said.

The Valerie Fund made sure Mariah got to go to her prom.

“It felt like a ‘Cinderella’ story,” she said.

Now, two years later, her bushy mane is back, and so is that voice.

Being diagnosed with leukemia at age 13 is no easy road to travel. But Jasmine Soltero, now a 16-year-old at Upper Academy in Elizabeth, is almost at the end of her treatment, and told WCBS 880’s John Metaxas that she couldn’t have done it without the Valerie Fund.

“It means a lifesaver to me,” she said.

For her, the pain of treatment was also punctuated by some positive memories.

“The doctors in the Valerie Fund centers are amazing. I mean, yeah, the needle hurt, but they’ll get the pain away,” she said.

There was even a summer camp for her and the other young patients.

“There’s rock climbing, fishing every morning,” she said.

Now Jasmine is concentrating on giving back.

She and her father Umberto plan to march in this year’s Valerie Fund Walk.

“If we can walk a mile for a cancer, we can walk a hundred miles to help this cure,” he said. “I believe every child deserves a chance.”

“I am eternally grateful for the Valerie Fund,” Jasmine said.

Were you or someone you know helped by the Valerie Fund? Feel free to share the story in the comments section below.