Going gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

President Obama proclaimed September as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in 2012.

9-year-old Mia Perez is battling leukemia, but she wants to help other kids by turning all of San Antonio gold in support.

SAN ANTONIO – Whether it’s playing in a virtual office or visiting the most remote jungle, 9-year-old Mia Perez loves playing on her Oculus.

She’s full of sass. Her mom Teresa jokes that she’s been 16 since she was 6 years old.

”I was in a parking lot trying to sell some of their clothes so I can get her bigger clothes because the steroids had made her a little heavier,” Teresa said.

“Wait, what?” Mia replied.

Mia loves movies, her dog Gunner, and she’s battling leukemia.

“I was pretty sad because I wouldn’t be able to see Kari or JC or mom and dad ever,” Mia said, remembering when she got her diagnosis.

“It makes you stronger, you know. Because Mia has been tough, super tough,” Teresa said about watching her daughter’s fight.

Mia was diagnosed on New Year’s Day in 2021. She’s in remission now and counting down the 36 weeks of treatment she has left.

“Thursday I take off one of these until when I go to here, that’s the end of treatment,” Mia said, showing us a paper chain with the weeks marked on it.

Throughout her neighborhood there are signs promoting Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The ribbon color is gold.

Mia has a big goal of turning all of San Antonio gold to help other kids.

“I would feel proud and happy if they did,” Mia said.

The golden touch stretches 83 miles West down Highway 90 to a community covered in Maroon.

“I always wished if I ever saw the first star I would wish if I could just go once and all the way back to see her again,” Mia said.

Tess Mata, one of the 21 Robb Elementary victims, is Mia’s cousin. They saw each other three days before she was killed.

Mia put a gold sign next to Tess’ Uvalde Strong sign.

“With Mia’s cancer diagnosis, you know, the whole family is there to support her. With Tess’ passing, the whole family is there to support each other,” Teresa said.

Now the Perez family is hoping the entire city will show support by going gold and donating to childhood cancer research.

“They have like this, this amazing strength and every kid needs to be given the chance to fight that,” Teresa said.

There’s a local nonprofit called Gabriella’s Smile Foundation --they’re helping kids battling cancer.

Mia is partnering with them to help raise money. You can donate to help her reach her goal of $20,000.

About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.