BY HOLLY FLETCHER
Times Assistant Editor
The car community is coming together once again to fight childhood cancer.
Ayden's Cars for Kids will be held Sunday, July 15, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the York Fairgrounds.
This is the fifth year for the show, which was started to help a little boy named Ayden, who was battling stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer.
No parent should be faced with the words "your child has cancer," according to event organizer Mariah Jemison of Hanover. "My goal is to help alleviate the financial worries for families."
Since the age of 17, Jemison has spearheaded this annual event to help local families who have children battling cancer.
In 2014, the event for Ayden was held at Hickory Falls Entertainment Center in Hanover.
The next year, they helped a boy named Landon who Ayden had met at Hershey Hospital while receiving treatment. That event was held at New Oxford High School.
In 2016, Ayden's Cars for Kids was held at the Allstar Sports Complex near Gettysburg, to benefit 8-year-old Kirra, who was diagnosed with leukemia.
And last year, the show benefited a two-year-old boy named Leiland who was battling a rare cancer called Langerhans cell histiocytosis. That event was held at Gettysburg's Battlefield Harley-Davidson.
This year's show in York is raising funds for a 12-year-old boy named Connor, who was diagnosed with brain and spinal cancer in November 2017. Despite surgery and more than 30-days of high dose radiation, his spirits remain high, said Jemison.
Connor enjoys hunting, fishing and playing baseball and is eagerly waiting to get back outside again. "We want to show this family that no one fights alone!" said Jemison.
One hundred percent of all proceeds from the car show goes to the family to help with expenses.
"Everyone is really supportive and it's amazing how we all come together," said Jemison, who keeps in touch with each family. She is happy to report that all of the children helped by Cars for Kids are currently in remission (cancer free).
The amount raised each year has varied, but continues to grow. The first year brought in $600, while last year saw $6,000. "This year will hopefully be even more!" she said.
Jemison said she wishes more people understood that children do get cancer. "When I first started Ayden's Cars for Kids back in 2014, someone said to me that they didn't know children could get cancer," she said. "Childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the United States."
She said no one will ever truly understand childhood cancer unless they've experienced it themselves. "These families go from living a normal life to a life full of doctors, blood tests, MRI's, the list goes on and on. Your whole world is changed."
Seeing children suffer is one of the hardest things Jemison has witnessed. "It's not something that ever gets easier no matter how much time I spend up at Hershey Hospital," she said. "Its heartbreaking, but the children do not let it bother them. They stay positive and they constantly tell their parents and me that they are going to be okay."
To bring awareness to childhood cancer and help kick it in the teeth, come to the York Fairgrounds on Sunday, July 15, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The event will include a cornhole tournament, vendors, food truck, low car limbo, exhaust competition, raffles, and DJ.
For more information or to register, follow Ayden's Cars for Kids on Facebook and Instagram.
To make a donation, there is a GoFundMe account at https://www.gofundme.com/5be14g8