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Story By:  Nancy Koontz

Feelings aren’t always easy to define when it comes to seeing children suffering with life-threatening illnesses such as leukemia or lymphoma; but when they go into a state of remission, it brings such relief, joy and hopefulness.   Getting their childhood back is a glorious thing. Meet the two remarkable “Boy and Girl of the Year" for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Colorado” who are the inspiration for the Society’s “Man & Woman of the Year” candidates who "run" in honor of the “Boy and Girl of the Year.”

The “Boy and Girl of the Year” program offers these candidates a personal connection to *The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's mission, and provides inspiration for the candidate's campaign teams. The “Boy and Girl of the Year” titles are awarded to a boy and girl in our community who either is currently in treatment for a blood cancer, or is a survivor of a blood cancer.

I recently met these two precious children at Shery McDonald Galbreath’s SaddleUp! Foundation when Shery, and her daughter Emma, hosted Corbin and Diana for a day of horseback riding and fun.  Seeing Corbin’s and Diana’s enthusiasm and zest for life was one of the most heartwarming experiences I’ve ever had.  Now it’s time for you to meet these two amazing heroes and hear a little about their journey.  

Corbin

Corbin Leonard is 12 years old. Corbin was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma on September 14, 2006. He has always been an active boy, and he loves football, basketball, golfing, video games, chess, flying in a plane and being with his family and friends.
 
As sick as Corbin was, he refused, at any point, to let this disease keep him for achieving his dreams, and he says: “I have cancer, it doesn’t have me… even when you are sick, it shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want to do.”
 
Big-hearted Corbin has such a warm and caring personality, and because of his experiences, he’s wise beyond his young years. You can’t help but just want to give him a big hug! He’s courageous and confident that he will lead a rich, happy and fulfilling life. We’re with you all the way on that one Corbin! 
 
Corbin, what’s your favorite subject in school?   Language Arts.
 
What do you think you’d like to do when you are an adult? I’d like to be a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. 
 
Give us a run down of your favorites:
 
Sport:   Football
TV Show:   “Nitro Circus”
Movie: “Top Gun”
Video Game: “Call of Duty”
 
What do you look for in a friend? Someone who likes you no matter what and is there for you through tough times.
 
Corbin, what should be done about bullies in school?  It’s different for boys than it is for girls sometimes. Boys usually just fight it out, and move on. Girls keep being mean to each other. You should definitely tell your parents and your teachers if you see it happening.
 
What do you like to do most with your family? Go to the movies.
 
What kept you going when you were sick? Support from my family.
 
What do you hope you will be doing, let’s say, 10 years from now? I hope to be at the Air Force Academy – being the best I can be!
 
If you had one wish you knew would come true, what would it be? That they find a cure for this disease, because I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through.
 
How are you feeling now that you are in remission? I feel really good.
 
What would you like to say to your family, friends, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society? Thank you to everyone for being there for me.
 
Diana
 
Oh is she cute! Sweet little Diana Reidy, age 5, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on August 30, 2007 when she was just 2 years old. With her chemotherapy behind her and her medi-port removed, Diana has just learned how to ride her bike with no training wheels and how to tie her own shoes. She’s very fond of her new pair of pink “sparkly” Converse Allstars and can run really fast in them. She’s very proud that she can write all of her letters, and she loves to write in her journal and keep notes on everything. Diana is just the epitome of love and adores her family friends, teachers – and her dog Nickie – although she has been told not to pull on Nickie’s ears so much. Diana says: “Nickie’s the best dog ever!”
 
Miss Reidy swims on the swim team and has already won several ribbons. Diana has learned how to ski, and she looks forward to going skiing with her family every weekend in the winter.   If you met this little sweetheart, her spirit would have you soaring!
 
Diana, what do you like most about school? Playing with friends.
 
Tell us about your yellow lab, Nickie.  What’s the funniest thing she does? She likes to lick me.
 
What do you like to do best with your whole family? Play games like Spud.
 
What do you think you’d like to be when you grow up? A singer.
 
Are you taking singing lessons? I take music classes at school.
 
I’m going to ask you about your favorites:
 
Snack: Ramen & candy.
 
TV show: “Sponge Bob”
 
Book: The Bible
 
Sport: Skiing, Swimming & Biking
 
If you could make a wish right now that would come true, what would it be? To go to Disney World.
 
These precious children remind their families every day what a miraculous gift life is. If you met them in person, you’d fall in love instantly, and they would become your heroes too. 
 
*The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Man & Woman of the Year (MWOY) campaign is a fundraising competition in communities across the U.S. in which participants vie for the title of Man or Woman of the Year. They raise funds for blood cancer research in honor of local children who are blood cancer survivors, the Boy & Girl of the Year. The titles are awarded to the men and women in each community who raise the most funds during the ten-week campaign; the top local fundraisers in the country also win the national titles. The Denver event will be held on May 14, 2010 at The Denver Athletic Club. For more information, call:  Andrea at: 303-984-2110.