VIRGINIA

Katie Vaughan's classmates raise money for childhood cancer

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Katie Vaughan is turning 8 years old in about a month, and a few months after that, she’ll be five years in remission, almost cancer-free.

“She was just two months shy of her third birthday and she was feeling sick for about six weeks on and off,” says Lisa Vaughan.

At almost 3 years old, Katie was diagnosed with an advanced, rare form of lymphoma.

“It was the worst thing that ever happened to us,” Vaughan says. “Those words ‘your child has cancer’ are words you never expect to hear.”

Since 2008, Katie has been in recovery and Friday, her class and teacher did something special to celebrate. They had a crazy hair day, a fundraiser for childhood cancer research.

“It feels kind of good because then I can like help people who went through what I went through and they can do sports,” Katie says.

Fairfax-based documentary filmmaker Mike Gillette and his team came up with the idea after working with Katie for the 52-minute, Emmy-nominated documentary, “The Truth 365.” Katie is the subject of much of the film, and Gillette says after a positive response, many viewers wanted to help even more.

The kids only raised about $40, but Katie’s mom says that’s not the point.

“It’s more about raising awareness in our schools and our communities,” she says.

These are better days, but the threat of a relapse still exists.

“Sometimes she says things like ‘When I grow up I want to have five kids,’ and my breath catches. All those thoughts in my mind, all those fears and I hope we’ll all make it there.”

With help from the $40 fundraiser, hopefully she will.

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