Fundraising in HOPE: Making a Visible Difference

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A nonprofit fundraiser supporting

World Eye Cancer Hope
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Photo from survivor event. WE C Hope promotes "life & sight" of every child diagnosed w/RB.

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$5,000 goal

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THIS IS MY STORY:  

My name is Clayonia Colbert-Dorsey and I am a SURVIVOR!  What was meant to rob, kill, and destroy ME at a very young age, has instead instilled within me, the possibility of HOPE.

The first-born child of my parents, I entered this world in HOPE and PROMISE.  My mother birthed me, almost a New Year's baby. Two years later, she would "deliver" me again, when realizing that her precious child seemed different.  When looking into the eyes of her baby, she was met with what is described as a "cat's eye glow" from my right eye.  Knowing as only a mother can, my mother sought answers, only to be told multiple times that I was fine - but my mother persisted.

In HOPE, my mother prevailed, buttressed by the support of my father, maternal/paternal grandparents, and other extended family.  This is the only reason why I am here STILL STANDING today.  Because of my mother, the CANCER that would have taken my life was discovered.  Yes, I was a toddler, with a cancerous tumor in my right eye; that tumor was quickly growing inward towards my brain.

RETINOBLASTOMA

Retinoblastoma (Rb) was my diagnosis.  "Retinoblastoma is an aggressive eye cancer affecting babies and young children.  It kills 7,000 youngsters and babies each year and blinds many more." (Source:  World Eye Cancer Hope).  The GLOW that my mother saw was actually a white glow in my pupil.  Also known as "leukocoria," this can be one of the first signs that a child has retinoblastoma.  We advocate for families to #KNOWTHEGLOW; thorough eye exams can pinpoint an Rb diagnosis.

THIS IS MY SONG

I was successfully treated at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.  My family was fortunate enough to have family who both lived in Cleveland and worked at the hospital.  Though I was only two-and-a half, my memories from that time are quite vivid.  One that stays with me, bringing a smile to my face, is being in the playroom of the children's ward.  I felt isolated and alone, in an unknown world, facing life-altering circumstances.  But then . . . bandaged, yet still able to partially see, I looked to the playroom door and screamed, "Joe!"  I ran into the arms of a familiar face, my great-aunt's beau who was a hospital employee, who came to check on me.  

In those days, my life changed and has remained forever altered.  For many years, I pondered the question, "Why me?"  While retinoblastoma is one of few cancers with a known genetic link, my case was sporadic.  I was born the first of the fifth generation on my maternal side and the fourth generation on my paternal side.  Our family history was long and no one BUT ME had retinoblastoma.  In truth, it was a burden to bear.  I was different--I looked different, I felt different; biannual trips to medical professionals became part of my life journey and will continue until I draw my last breath in this realm.  I couldn't understand, why me!?  It felt as though no one in the world could empathize with what had become my reality, nor my struggle for acceptance.

ONE RB WORLD

During the summer of 2017, I found my way to the world of Facebook.  The platform offered the potential to create worldwide linkages.  Somehow, someway, I discovered a retinoblastoma survivors page and I joined.  Soon, I discovered that the World Rb Conference was being held in the Washington, DC area.  The DMV had become my place of residence and nothing was going to prevent me from attending!   My LIFE changed!  For the first time EVER in my more than 40+ years of life, I was able to MEET and CONNECT with those who were truly like me.  I often say, "I found my tribe," I was no longer trying to figure things out on my own.  I was able to meet survivors, parents, siblings, medical professionals, and supporters from across the GLOBE--all on a similar journey to "create LIFE and SIGHT for every child."  There was such beauty in those three days together; I've developed friendships and familial bonds that continue to this day--all due to One RB World.

MY PLEA

"Why Me!?"  Well, as the late, great Congressman John Lewis said, "If not us, then who?  If not now, then when?"  I had no right to question my plight or my existence, rather, I needed to DO SOMETHING to be an ADVOCATE and PAVE the way for others.  I leaned into opportunities to attend further WE C HOPE programming; I accepted speaking opportunities; and a little over a year ago, I joined the United States Board of Directors for the organization.

Currently, we are planning the 2024 One RB Conference to be held in Honolulu, Hawaii.  This will be the first world gathering since the pandemic.  Lives will be changed, friendships made, and HOPE restored.  Your HELP is NEEDED to make this possible.  Please consider making a donation to our worthwhile efforts.

We invite you to learn more about our lifesaving work by visiting:  https://wechope.org

Thank you!

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World Eye Cancer Hope

Organized By Clayonia Colbert-Dorsey

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