A fundraising gala tonight for 6-year-old Anya Martinez will host an impressive 800 people in hopes of contributing more than $100,000 toward funds needed to save her life.
Anya has had acute lymphoblastic leukemia since she was 2 years old.
Bone marrow replacement and chemotherapy are not working and Anya’s family needs to raise at least $500,000 to cover her stay at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she can be part of an exclusive clinical trial that doctors believe may be able to save her.
Fundraising began in earnest after OHIP denied coverage of Anya’s treatment in the U.S. in May, which involves modifying and replacing Anya’s immune system T cells.
The Martinez family has raised more than $160,000 so far.
The gala comes during an emotional week for the Ancaster, Ont., family, who recently returned from Philadelphia where Anya underwent pre-testing for the clinical trial.
She is a viable candidate, but instead of starting treatment this month, as the family has hoped, it could be October before she begins.
Stefano Camaiani, the event organizer and longtime best friend of Michael Martinez, Anya’s father, said time is of the essence and the Martinez family is trying to simultaneously raise the necessary money while fighting to get Anya into the trial as soon as possible.
“I’m not sure if we get the funds sooner what will happen, but right now they’ve told us October, which honestly sucks,” said Camaiani. “The sooner the better. There’s nothing slowing her cancer down.”
Sick Kids and McMaster Children’s Hospital are trying to help push Anya’s treatment start date sooner.
But at least for tonight, she has asked to be at the gala, and is excited to be able to attend if she is feeling well enough.
The event is at LIUNA Station on James Street North in Hamilton starting at 6 p.m.
It is sold out, but clearly with his mind set on raising as much medical funding as possible, Camaiani says he would try to fit additional people at tables that might have a little extra room if someone doesn’t show up.
“That will kind of determine whether we can accommodate anyone at the door,” he said.
The gala will feature silent and live auctions, as well as music, and performances for Anya specifically.
Camaiani says the best way to help, since corporate and individual tickets are sold out, is to visit the official Help Save Little Anya fundraising site.