28 children battling cancer, some terminal, get Christmas in July celebration

Kids given happy distraction from chemotherapy, other treatments

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Children battling cancer get lots of attention over the winter holidays, but a local nonprofit realized there isn't much for them during the summer, so organizers are stepping up to give 28 San Antonio children a Christmas in July.

Organizers said some of the sick children may not make it until Christmas.

Reagan, 3, was diagnosed in January with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

"It was like, 'Here's the diagnosis. Tomorrow she's starting chemo,'" said Joshua Cormican, Reagan's dedicated father.

Cormican said it's been a tough seven months.

"The worst part is her looking into your eyes, wondering why you can't help her feel better, and there's nothing I can do about it," he said.

Despite it all, he said Reagan is brilliant, kind and energetic.

"She handles it a lot tougher than I think I could," Cormican said through tears. "She takes it day by day and she remains happy."

Reagan will continue heavy chemotherapy treatments for a couple more months, and if everything goes according to plan, she'll soon be in a maintenance stage on her way to remission.

While she powers through, people across San Antonio want to help Reagan keep a smile on her face.

"We wanted to do something special in the heat of the summer, and we want to throw the biggest Christmas party. Santa Claus is coming with a bunch of his friends," said Gloria Rodriguez, president of the nonprofit Ma Hila's Heart Project.

Rodriguez said the Ma Hila's Heart Project charity has put on a massive Christmas in July celebration for the past five years. It includes an all-expense paid weekend on the Riverwalk with a hotel stay, a nice dinner, shopping, a small river parade and, of course, a Christmas party.

"The families get to come together with families just like them, so there's a unification that happens that's kind of unexplained. Everyone just enjoys life for just a little while," Rodriguez said.

Ma Hila's Heart Project has home visits with the families and collects each child's Christmas wish list.

The best way for the public to help is to donate money to the nonprofit's website.

Organizers hope to have almost all donations in by this Sunday, July 7, so they can buy the presents and wrap them in time.

The Christmas in July event will be at 6 p.m. July 13 at the Hyatt Regency.

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