ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — A 5-year-old St. Pete Beach girl who has fought cancer for half of her life and her family are raising thousands to help other children across the U.S. fight pediatric cancer.
- RELATED: St. Petersburg Family Raising Funds to Fight Childhood Cancer
- Caroline Gallagher, 5, diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 18 months old
- Caroline's leukemia now in remission
- Caroline will present check to Moffitt Cancer Center during Tampa Bay Rowdies game Sept. 21
- More Good News stories
On a hot Wednesday afternoon, Caroline Gallagher, 5, climbs all over St. John Vianney Catholic School’s playground.
“Woah,” she says as she stumbles onto one of the jungle gym platforms with a smile on her face.
Next, the kindergartener tackles a plastic climbing wall. The challenge of each obstacle is nothing compared to the battle she's waged with cancer for more than half of her life.
At 18 months old, Caroline was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“Literally your worst nightmare,” said mother Danielle Gallagher with tears in her eyes. “It’s just unimaginable, it’s unimaginable.”
But perhaps even sadder is Caroline wasn’t alone. Her cousin Julia was also diagnosed with cancer eight months later.
Julia had stage four neuroblastoma.
“They were the only two little girl cousins and they were bald at the same time and living the cancer life as a child at the same time,” said Danielle. “But our journeys were different in a lot of ways too.”
“Julia had cancer, and the doctor’s couldn’t fix it, so she is up in heaven,” said Caroline.
Joining the fight to help others
Caroline is now in remission and certainly misses Julia. In June, we went out to the Gallagher home because Caroline was running her own lemonade stand with the proceeds going to help other kids battling pediatric cancer.
The goal was to raise $2,000. But instead, she raked in $13,000.
The Gallaghers began fundraising to help fight pediatric cancer in 2017. But after Caroline's amazing success this past summer, they decided to go all in with helping and raising money.
They enlisted the help of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, too.
On Saturday, Sept. 14 Caroline gave a $1,500 check to All Children’s Hospital. On Sept. 21, she is going to give a $500 check to Moffitt Cancer Center.
Caroline Gallagher, a childhood leukemia survivor, presents a check for $1,000 to the Tampa Bay Rowdies "Gold Together" campaign to help fight pediatric cancer in 2017. (Courtesy of Gallagher Family)
“It’s something our players have just gotten behind,” said Lee Cohen, Tampa Bay Rowdies Chief Operating Officer. “If you come to the game out here on a Saturday night, what do you see a lot of? Kids.”
For the past six seasons, the Rowdies have worked hard to support kids with pediatric cancer. Every September, the team launches their “Go Gold” campaign.
“We are a large organization and it’s our responsibility to give back,” said Cohen.
Caroline feels a similar responsibility. We asked her how long she wanted to keep helping.
“100 years,” said Caroline with a smile.
Or at least until 100 percent of kids are cancer free.
The Sept. 21 Rowdies game begins at 7:30 p.m. At half time, Caroline will present the check on the field.