First Posted: 3/21/2012
S. ABINGTON TWP. - Cindy Holmes had a simple request: Have cupcakes with her daughter Rosey's classmates to celebrate the milestone of her daughter being cancer free for five years. When she walked through the doors at South Abington Elementary School March 15 she could hardly believe her eyes.
The hallways were decked out with signs showing support for her daughter and as part of the school-wide celebration students and faculty members wore clothing in shades of orange, the color ribbon which designates leukemia awareness.
"I had no idea it would be a sea of orange when we walked in," Cindy Holmes said. "We're overwhelmed with everybody's outpouring of support and we're just so happy that she has so many people to celebrate with."
Principal Bob Bugno did not think twice when Rosey's kindergarten teacher, Danielle Lindelman, approached him about having the celebration during school hours.
"I said ‘Sure why not'," Bugno said. "I truly believe that these kinds of experiences for kids are just as important as the math and the sciences and reading as far as developing them as human beings. I think learning about differences and being able to openly discuss situations like Rosey's is great for kids. It's OK to be different, it's OK to have unique characteristics about you. I think we need to recognize those differences in kids, celebrate them and help them be the best that they can be."
According to Cindy Holmes, Rosey, who has Down syndrome, was diagnosed at 13 months of age with leukemia (AML) within 24 hours at Geisinger Janet Weis Children's Hospital.
"From the start, they were very upbeat with her prognosis," Holmes said. "Kids with Down syndrome have a higher rate of leukemia, but they respond extremely well to treatments. We knew we were in the right place. She underwent seven months of chemotherapy and has been in remission since March 2007.
"To be in remission for five years is a big milestone as far as cancer goes and we're humbled with the support from the school."
Rosey's special education teacher Sarah Sokso said she is very impressed with the kindergartener's will and determination to thrive in the classroom despite her challenges.
"She's a miracle," Sokso said. "She's an inspiration to everyone. She is so independent, you can just tell with a wonderful job her parents and family did raising her. Every day she has a positive attitude. She loves to learn, she's like a sponge and she loves to be successful. She loves being able to do things by herself. She doesn't like a lot of help which is awesome."
Brian Holmes is thankful to live in a community that is so compassionate to his daughter.
"I feel very blessed and grateful to have grown up in an area with people who rally around an event like this," he said. "If something like this raises awareness for childhood leukemia in the area it would be a great thing."