Super Bowl Prize Helps Cancer Kids

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Thursday, May 3, 2012 - 2:07pm

Stranger uses home makeover prize to redecorate room for young cancer patient.

When you're 10 years old and fighting cancer, the people cheering you on in the battle make all the difference.

Emily DelVecchio knows a thing or two about both.

Emily was on a competitive cheerleading team before she got bone cancer last year.

"I liked to do like round-offs and cartwheels," said Emily.

Now, even though Emily can't cheer the same way anymore, she's rallied and led the charge this year for another cause.

"I asked how come there weren't any girl rooms," she said of her stay at the St. Vincent Peyton Manning Children's Hospital in Indianapolis during her treatments this past year.

Emily wanted to see a room at the hospital decorated in a theme a sick girl could enjoy.

"She's always been a girly girl. And to be staying in a Peyton Manning room or a dinosaur room or a race car room, she always just felt 'What about the girls?'," explained Emily's dad Joe.

The cost to have one decorated in a specific theme is $10,000, a cost the DelVecchios could not afford.

That's when a total stranger who became a friend, made it happen.

That stranger was Joel Markland.

"I've got three little girls. I can relate to that," said Joel Markland.

Markland didn't know Emily or her family until this year's Super Bowl.

"God used me," said Markland of meeting the DelVecchios and hearing Emily's story.

Markland had won a Super Bowl party in his house this year from KFC, along with $10,000 to redecorate his family room.

He invited sick kids from the hospital to the party and met Emily.

That's all it took for Markland to know what he wanted to do with his prize money.

"I said, 'Done.' That was my word. Done," Markland recalled of the moment he learned the hospital did not have a room geared towards young girls.

Markland, Emily's family and dozens of her fellow cheerleaders during this fight were there as "Emily's Cheerleading Room," as its been named, was dedicated at the hospital this week.

"I really like it," said Emily as her father wheeled her into the room decorated with megaphones and Colts cheerleader memorabilia on the walls.

Other cheerleading squads from universities like Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame sent items, too, that now hang in the room for others to enjoy.

"It's incredible. It's so much more than I ever imagined," said Emily's mother, Lori.

Emily has a wish for other girls who get sick and have to stay there.

"That they'll really like it and that they hope they'll get to stay in this room," said Emily.

The words "Go...Fight...Win" are also painted on the walls, reminding other sick little girls that everyone needs a cheerleader sometimes.

The best cheerleaders though, are often the Emily DelVecchio's we meet in our lives.

They keep up the good fight, no matter what the odds.

And, like Emily, they inspire others to actions, many times with just a smile.
 

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