PHOENIXVILLE — Balloons will light up the night sky on Tuesday in Reeves Park to remember a little girl who lost her fight with cancer along with others who are fighting or died from the disease.
Oct. 9 marks what would have been Gabriella Martha Vogel’s seventh birthday if an aggressive form of brain cancer, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, had not cut her life short. It also marks her parents’ John and Carolynn’s wedding anniversary. Gabby passed away on Sept. 11, 2011.
The family is hosting a birthday celebration that will include a balloon release and children’s activities. Activities begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Families can enjoy treats from Petrucci’s Ice Cream-Water Ice, face painting and balloon artists. Piggy Paints will be painting nails with eco-friendly nail polish. Bands will be performing and a DJ will play the Vogels’ favorite songs along with other child favorites.
Gabby’s family has established a not-for-profit organization, Get Well Gabby Foundation, that raises money for pediatric brain cancer research and other families facing cancer.
“This is a foundation event, where last year was a celebration of Gabby’s life,” John Vogel said. “We are still celebrating her (Gabby’s) life and what she’s inspired us to do.”
The balloon release will not only remember Gabby, but for children who are fighting cancer or have lost their lives because of the disease.
Vogel said that the foundation reached out through Facebook and asked for names of other children the family could remember with the balloon release.
“Gabby may not be there to fight for us, but we’re fighting for her and other kids,” Vogel said. “Seeing what she went through taught us to be stronger.”
Vogel will make a speech about Gabby, pediatric cancer and the foundation. To further create awareness about the disease, a video will be shown about other children who have died from cancer.
“It’s a time for reflection and think about what we’re supposed to do,” Vogel said about the awareness event. “We want to say thank you to Phoenixville and thank you to Gabby to inspire us to make a difference.”
He said he hopes the children attending have fun and the adults learn more about pediatric cancer.
According to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, about 11,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer each year and 3,750 children in America are diagnosed with a brain tumor annually.