Jill Scott with her nephew, Amir.
Getting ready to walk
By Elzena Rankins
BrittiCares International hosted their 6th Annual “Smile for Life” 5k run/walk on Saturday May 14, 2011 at Kenneth Hahn Park. Founders Jaime and Shirell Henderson started the organization with the help of their daughter, Brittiana Renee Henderson who was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma (bone cancer) at the age of ten. A deadly disease that could easily discourage someone to give up but instead the Henderson family transmuted their disappointment into greatness, forming BrittiCares; a nonprofit organization named in honor of Brittiana, dedicated to embracing children diagnosed with cancer through the power of love.
As a strong advocate and with a great motto engraved in her heart to “Never give up” which is part of Brittiana’s touching poem she wrote in remission, Brittiana was capable of empowering others to do the same, Never Give Up.
Although Brittiana was dealing with her own battle with cancer she managed to shift the focus on others rather than herself. Through this shift she began visiting other children in the hospital fighting the same battle; encouraging and giving them the hope to carry through with her loving hugs and smiles. Through that act of courage it was then that BrittiCares International was created, using the same goal that Brittiana had, to help children survive cancer one smile at a time.
Sadly in 2007 Brittiana’s battle with cancer ended, but the fight was not over. The Henderson’s made it their goal to carry on their daughters’ legacy even after the devastation and pain of her death.
Now five years later Brittiana’s legacy still lives just as strong as ever as hundreds from all walks of life showed up in support of Brittiana’s legacy. Grammy award winning, actress, singer and poet Jill Scott helped host the event with the help of her nephew Amir Mitchell Townes who was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a muscular cancer, at the age of 10. A year later through great faith and strength Amir won his battle with cancer completing his last session of Chemotherapy just in time for the 5K walk. “It takes faith and courage to deal with this disease,” said Jill Scott as she stood on stage with nephew Amir and son.
Amir also known as Amiricle a name given to him throughout his battle with cancer, touched the hearts of founders Jaime and Shirell Henderson when Amir made a donation to the BrittiCares foundation! The donation went towards rewarding a sick youth through the Imagine Me, Bedroom Makeover program, an experience that was given to him as well. Unfortunately the youth passed away just weeks after the room was completed. “It’s not medicine, no it is medicine, because BrittiCares is medicine,” Amir said on stage in reference to BrittiCares right before he performed his rap that he dedicated to Brittiana and everyone fighting cancer. Amir said that he plans to put his rap on iTunes to help raise money for the foundation. In gratitude to Amir’s big heart, Shirell Henderson cried as she thanked Amir telling him that he was the epitome of giving.”
The day was definitely an emotional rollercoaster, but in midst so many people came together to celebrate and help raise awareness. Starting with the 5k walk/run everyone from grandmothers to children participated.
Mothers pushing their children in strollers, and even those with disabilities participated in the walk.
Throughout the event there were some outstanding performances by Statik Express, Small Change, Lucy Angelo, Blake Hightower, Sade Champagne, Audio Push and even recording artist Tionne Williams just to name a few. Council Member Bernard Parks also showed up in support.
Although it was a sad day for those who had lost loved ones, It was a day well respected, filled with fun laughter, joy and celebration. A legacy that was created through Brittiana’s big heart.
One in 330 children are subject to develop cancer by the age of 20.
Although the 5 year survival rate is steadily increasing, one quarter of children will die 5 years from the time of diagnosis-BrittiCares. Org.
For more information about BrittiCares International and what they do, please visit BrittiCares.Org
Each Day there is a child suffering from this disease. BrittiCares can make a difference, to help make a difference please show your support by donating to BrittiCares.org.