10-year-old San Marcos girl, 11-year-old Chula Vista boy stars of Leukemia fundraiser
Two kids who have been fighting cancer are stars of Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s San Diego fundraising campaign
Avila Gachalian, 10, and Marco Torres, 11, will be the stars of a 10-week fundraising campaign put on by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of San Diego. The children both have been fighting cancer and were picked as the nonprofit’s Honored Heroes. The two will spread the word that “we can create a world without blood cancers,” which is the theme of the campaign.
Avila is fighting B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Avila was diagnosed in July 2019 and was five months short of completing her original two-year treatment plan when her cancer relapsed in June 2021. Avila, who lives San Marcos, is an avid musician and loves making music to help keep her spirits up. She also loves playing with her pet bearded dragon and hermit crabs.
“Avila is the strongest girl we know,” said Kenna Villar, campaign development specialist for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of San Diego.
Marco was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2016 and has currently achieved remission. He loves Lego building and playing football and hockey. Marco, who lives in Chula Vista, is trying to make up his mind whether to be a pro hockey player or doctor when he grows up.
Marco and Avila, along with their families, are slated to attend campaign events (virtually or in person) to share their stories and cheer on the candidates participating in the fundraising effort. Throughout the campaign, the families plan to record videos, send photos and create art to share with the candidates and their teams.
The campaign, which runs from April 13 to June 25, includes a philanthropic competition among local leaders to see who can raise the most money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Money raised goes to research to advance targeted therapies and immunotherapies, blood cancer information, education and support for patients and policies that ensure patients have access to blood cancer treatments.
The competition is expected to draw about 10 to 15 local candidates and thousands of participants from across the country. The man and woman who raise the most money during the campaign are awarded the title of Man or Woman of the Year in their community.
Nominations for San Diego Man or Woman of the Year are being accepted through March 31.
A gathering to celebrate Marco and Avila at the society’s Man & Woman of the Year Grand Finale is planned for June 25 at Loews Coronado Bay Resort.
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