Hope for a Little Hero

November 30, 2022

On a chilly October morning in Rochester, NY, two-year-old Remi and her parents, Mark and Jenny, headed to the hospital for a long morning of treatment to battle her leukemia. Meanwhile, a group of enthusiastic volunteers from Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotels and a team of expert build leaders from Roc Solid Foundation arrived in Remi’s backyard to give her a huge surprise.

and a team of expert build leaders from Roc Solid Foundation arrived in Remi’s backyard to give her a huge surprise.

Remi standing in front of her house before diagnosis.

Remi was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in July of 2022 after what seemed to be a cold wasn’t going away. “We received this while in the hospital after Remi had been sick for a solid week and wasn’t getting better.” Remi’s papa bear, Mark shared. “It was fairly a blur. They had told us there was a possibility of leukemia but because of some other symptoms she was having we were holding on to some hope that it was just an odd virus.”

Despite the devastating diagnosis for their oldest child, the family wrapped their arms around each other and leaned on the power of community to move forward. The diagnosis hit close to home for Remi’s family because her mama bear, Jenny, lost her sister to leukemia twenty years prior. “Once we had the diagnosis we focused on our family and tried to surround ourselves with love as much as we could,” Mark told us.

Redefining Play for a Little Patient

Volunteers from Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotels building the swing beam for the playset
Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotels volunteers working on the swing beam.

Remi and her family spent all of July 2022 in the hospital developing a treatment plan. The family began exploring options to provide Remi with a playset since she was just getting to the age where she loved to play outside. Mark and Jenny knew that getting their little girl up and playing in the fresh air was just what she needed.

Unfortunately, kiddos like Remi have extremely low immune systems due to their treatment lowering their red blood cell count and are unable to play on public playgrounds where they could encounter too many germs. “Because of Remi’s treatment her blood levels are at an all-time low so taking her to a public playground was out of the question,” Mark shared. “When the child life specialist Jared, mentioned Roc Solid, it couldn’t have been better timing.

Volunteers gathering around the nearly completed playset
Volunteers finish up the playset moments before Remi arrives.

As Remi was undergoing treatment on October 19, 2022, the Roc Solid team was hard at work assembling her very own playset right in her own backyard. Mark explained, “It was a surprise for Remi. We came home from treatment minutes before the build was complete!” As Remi and her family arrived back at home, the team was gathering around the newly completed playset to welcome Remi home to her big surprise. 

This is #WhatHopeLooksLike

Remi swinging while her mama and papa bears grin from ear to ear
Remi swings while her mama and papa bears celebrate.

“It was amazing to be able to see her face when she walked around the backyard to see it. It was also amazing for us as mom and dad to see the volunteers and be able to thank them in person and see the reactions on everyone’s faces. It obviously brought us both to tears,” Mark and Jenny shared.

Remi ran straight to the swing and couldn’t wait for her mama and papa bears to push her while her crowd of admiring volunteers cheered. The look of hope and joy on each face was enough to move everyone present to tears before the family could even speak. 

“Jenny and I just cannot thank Roc Solid, our project coordinators, Les and Michael, and all the volunteers from Batavia Downs who all helped us enough. It is not something we ever envisioned being the recipients of but are just so grateful,” Mark tearfully shared. Remi loves swinging and is even getting adventurous enough to try out the slide. Her family cannot wait to see her grow into her playset alongside her little brother, Gus, now just 4 months old. 

Remi standing in front of her new playset
Remi taking it all in after she sees her new playset.

Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotels sponsored Remi’s playset and restored hope and play to her family. You can be the hero for a kiddo fighting cancer just like Remi! Email us at info@rocsolidfoundation.org for more information or join the Beam, our community of monthly givers and start helping us say “yes!” to more families every month. 

© Roc Solid Foundation