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Kid conquers bone cancer, face appears in ad campaigns

Haley Richardson with Hagan Ace stores owner Bill Hagan.Every year Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals identify a child with a remarkable medical story from each state and name them a “Champion.”

The Florida CMNH Champion for 2011 is 10-year-old Haley Richardson, a native of Jacksonville whose grandparents Vernon and Janie Richardson, as well as other close relatives, are from Baker County.

In 2009, Haley was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that tends to strike children just entering adolescence.

Formerly an active gymnast, Haley since then has undergone surgery, extended chemotherapy and was fitted with a newly developed prosthetic knee replacement which can be adjusted without surgery as she grows.

CMNH partners with various companies like Proctor & Gamble to raise funds for treatment of children with life threatening diseases.

After Haley was chosen as Florida’s Champion, her pixie-like face graced the package of products such as Frosted Flakes and Pop Tarts and most recently Cheese-It Cracker boxes at participating Food Lion stores.

Ace Hardware is an official sponsor of the CMNH Champion program. On September 26, a limousine was sent for Haley and her family, delivering them to the Hagan Ace Hardware store on San Jose Boulevard.

Bill Hagan, owner of the eight Hagan Ace Hardware stores in Florida, officiated a special honorary ceremony. Representatives from CMNH and the Hagan Ace Hardware Macclenny store were present as well.

During the ceremony, the official store poster of Haley was unveiled. The poster, which CMNH calls an “Icon” shows her name, age, the state of Florida and the caption “Be an Ace Champion!”

Smaller versions of the Icon are available at cash registers for customers to purchase with a donation amount of their choice. All donations go to CMNH and the Icons are displayed at the front of the store.

After the unveiling, Haley also received a bouquet of flowers, a Webkinz handbag, a Champions T-shirt, Ace Hardware hat and a gift certificate for $150 to use at the store.

Family members spoke with The Press by phone about Haley earlier this week.

“She’s a brave little person,” said her aunt, Rachel Lauramore. “She’s always upbeat and optimistic.”

Haley’s mother, Tina Richardson, agreed, commenting further on her daughter’s unflinching spirit.

“She’s a handful, that one,” she said of her highly social and energetic child. “She acts shy when she first meets you but when she gets to know you, look out!”

According to Mrs. Richardson, two years ago Haley, then 8, began complaining of pain in her right knee.

She and husband Eric thought it must be growing pains. The child complained so much that grandparents Vernon and Janie Richardson, took her to Solantic Emergency Care to have an x-ray.

The x-ray revealed a mass in the right knee. The clinic urged them to take the girl straight to Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

“We were in shock,” said her mother. “My husband called me at work with the news.”

Haley was admitted immediately to Wolfson and shortly thereafter, a needle biopsy revealed bad news.

It was osteosarcoma, a type of malignant bone tumor that occurs during the period of rapid growth signaling the beginning of adolescence. The disease strikes boys more often than girls.

Eight days later, Haley began her first chemotherapy treatment. Those treatments would continue over the next two years. Twice, her long black hair would all fall out. She couldn’t attend school, which she loved, and had to receive instruction at the hospital.

Surgeons removed the diseased bone in her leg and inserted a special implant connecting her femur with a hinge joint in the knee. The metal components can be heated from the inside allowing them to expand as she grows.

“None of it really phased her,” said her mother. “That’s just the personality she has.”

Cancer free for the last year, Haley recently finished up her chemotherapy treatments. She also went back to the gym in Jacksonville where she had formerly been so active, for a visit. She couldn’t resist climbing up on the parallel bars she used to jump and flip around on with complete abandon.

“You know you aren’t supposed to be doing that,” cautioned her mother.

“Just for a moment, Mom. It’ll be okay,” she said.

With her strong new knee, she carefully and gently balanced herself on the beam. She smiled, but a little regretfully.

“I just didn’t realize how much I missed it all until now,” she said.

The Florida CMNH Champion for 2011 is 10-year-old Haley Richardson, a native of Jacksonville whose grandparents Vernon and Janie Richardson, as well as other close relatives, are from Baker County.

In 2009, Haley was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that tends to strike children just entering adolescence.

Formerly an active gymnast, Haley since then has undergone surgery, extended chemotherapy and was fitted with a newly developed prosthetic knee replacement which can be adjusted without surgery as she grows.

CMNH partners with various companies like Proctor & Gamble to raise funds for treatment of children with life threatening diseases.

After Haley was chosen as Florida’s Champion, her pixie-like face graced the package of products such as Frosted Flakes and Pop Tarts and most recently Cheese-It Cracker boxes at participating Food Lion stores.

Ace Hardware is an official sponsor of the CMNH Champion program. On September 26, a limousine was sent for Haley and her family, delivering them to the Hagan Ace Hardware store on San Jose Boulevard.

Bill Hagan, owner of the eight Hagan Ace Hardware stores in Florida, officiated a special honorary ceremony. Representatives from CMNH and the Hagan Ace Hardware Macclenny store were present as well.

During the ceremony, the official store poster of Haley was unveiled. The poster, which CMNH calls an “Icon” shows her name, age, the state of Florida and the caption “Be an Ace Champion!”

Smaller versions of the Icon are available at cash registers for customers to purchase with a donation amount of their choice. All donations go to CMNH and the Icons are displayed at the front of the store.

After the unveiling, Haley also received a bouquet of flowers, a Webkinz handbag, a Champions T-shirt, Ace Hardware hat and a gift certificate for $150 to use at the store.

Family members spoke with The Press by phone about Haley earlier this week.

“She’s a brave little person,” said her aunt, Rachel Lauramore. “She’s always upbeat and optimistic.”

Haley’s mother, Tina Richardson, agreed, commenting further on her daughter’s unflinching spirit.

“She’s a handful, that one,” she said of her highly social and energetic child. “She acts shy when she first meets you but when she gets to know you, look out!”

According to Mrs. Richardson, two years ago Haley, then 8, began complaining of pain in her right knee.

She and husband Eric thought it must be growing pains. The child complained so much that grandparents Vernon and Janie Richardson, took her to Solantic Emergency Care to have an x-ray.

The x-ray revealed a mass in the right knee. The clinic urged them to take the girl straight to Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

“We were in shock,” said her mother. “My husband called me at work with the news.”

Haley was admitted immediately to Wolfson and shortly thereafter, a needle biopsy revealed bad news.

It was osteosarcoma, a type of malignant bone tumor that occurs during the period of rapid growth signaling the beginning of adolescence. The disease strikes boys more often than girls.

Eight days later, Haley began her first chemotherapy treatment. Those treatments would continue over the next two years. Twice, her long black hair would all fall out. She couldn’t attend school, which she loved, and had to receive instruction at the hospital.

Surgeons removed the diseased bone in her leg and inserted a special implant connecting her femur with a hinge joint in the knee. The metal components can be heated from the inside allowing them to expand as she grows.

“None of it really phased her,” said her mother. “That’s just the personality she has.”

Cancer free for the last year, Haley recently finished up her chemotherapy treatments. She also went back to the gym in Jacksonville where she had formerly been so active, for a visit. She couldn’t resist climbing up on the parallel bars she used to jump and flip around on with complete abandon.

“You know you aren’t supposed to be doing that,” cautioned her mother.

“Just for a moment, Mom. It’ll be okay,” she said.

With her strong new knee, she carefully and gently balanced herself on the beam. She smiled, but a little regretfully.

“I just didn’t realize how much I missed it all until now,” she said.

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