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“If there was one word that could be used to describe Ariana, it would be compassionate,” says her mom, Jeannine. “She genuinely cared about people, whether it was friends, family, teammates, or random acquaintances at school. Ariana was the type of individual who’d spend her free time helping others. Her teachers at school would typically see Ariana helping struggling students with their schoolwork, during her lunch and recess breaks.”

 Nine-year-old Ariana was also passionate about music, and enjoyed an eclectic playlist of country, classic and alternative rock, pop, rap, and Spanish-language songs, which she’d sing along to with her dad, Rodolfo.

 “By the time she was 8, she had been to three concerts,” Jeannine remembers. Ariana’s favorite band? Maroon 5.

 Just one day before Ariana’s 9th birthday, Jeannine and her husband got the news: their smart, calm, sweet daughter had leukemia. They decided to let Ariana enjoy her day before they shared the news and the plan for treatment at Packard Children’s.

 “She had a moment, but she didn’t let the news break her down,” Jeannine says. “She still wanted to do things and be active.”

 During Ariana’s inpatient stay at the Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases, she could be found upstairs doing art and reading at the Hospital School. She would Facetime with friends who couldn’t come and visit and would walk around the hospital, exploring. Ariana decided to embrace life, regardless of her circumstances.

 Treatment had just started—Ariana received chemotherapy and was able to return home and receive care as an outpatient at the Bass Center—when she woke up one morning with a terrible fever. Ariana’s condition deteriorated, and she was admitted to our pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Just four days later, Ariana went into cardiac arrest and passed away. Her family and care team were devastated.

 Social workers and our Family Guidance and Bereavement Program were there for Ariana’s family. They provided the family with a box of mementos and connected them with grief counselors.

 “We will be forever grateful to the care team at the Bass Center and in the PICU,” Jeannine says. “And our social worker, Shionda, was there and able to guide us through when we didn’t know what to do or what to ask.”

 Every year, Summer Scamper serves as an opportunity for the Family Guidance and Bereavement Program to fundraise in honor of families like Ariana’s. We’re deeply grateful for everyone who Scampers.

Ariana was a Packard Children’s patient for a total of 22 days, a relatively short time, but her care team had a profound impact on Jeannine, Rodolfo, and Ariana’s brother, Izaiah.

 “Shionda was there for us, even after we lost Ariana,” Jeannine says. “She showed me that my daughter mattered.”

 After Ariana’s passing, her parents and brother attended grief counseling, and recently Rodolfo has found comfort in a father’s group organized by Family Guidance and Bereavement. This May marked three years since Ariana’s passing, but her memory lives on.

 The family has attended the Family Guidance and Bereavement Program’s Annual Day of Remembrance twice and enjoyed reconnecting with members of Ariana’s care team.

 Ariana loved school and art and played third base for her softball team, the Spartan Stingers. Jeannine describes Ariana as “a leader on her team. It came naturally to her, keeping her teammates positive throughout the games. Her coaches called her a gentle giant!”

 We are honored to have Ariana’s family and friends with us at Scamper this year, and you’ll see their family pictured on a mile marker on the race course and in the Family Festival.

Ariana is #WhyWeScamper.

Register to Scamper and support care, comfort, and cure for more kids like Ariana.