Any kid with cancer will tell you that having the disease is isolating. You’re in the hospital all the time, separated from your friends. And when you lose all your hair, you look really different, too. And it is extra hard if you have to watch all your friends go off to college, and you can’t. That’s what happened to Ariana last August.

She was all set to head off to the University of Colorado when some weird bruising on her arms and legs sent her to the doctor. Blood tests diagnosed leukemia. College was out. Instead of dorm rooms and parties, it’s been chemo and needle punctures for Ariana. Not exactly the year of her dreams, right? It’s no wonder that she has been struggling with loneliness and depression.

Team Summer kids Sarah and Rebekah know exactly how Ariana feels, because they have been there, too. And they wanted her to know that she was not alone.

After welcoming Ariana to Team Summer, they surprised her with something she really wanted:
a brand new iPhone!

Getting the gift was awesome – no doubt about it – but the real magic happened afterwards. The three girls huddled together, talking as though they had been friends forever, flipping from chemo war stories to their favorite brands of makeup without missing a beat.

It was wonderful to see Ariana so obviously thrilled to be around girls her own age who truly get it.

Before parting, the girls all exchanged phone numbers, and Rebekah said to Ariana, “We’ll always be here for you.” And that’s exactly what Team Summer kids do for each other, stand together during some of their darkest times.

Thank you, Sarah and Rebekah, for leading with your hearts. We know you are making a big difference in Ariana’s cancer journey.

And to all you donors who make these gifts possible, stay tuned for a very cool story coming up: Ariana gives her first gift!

Many thanks to photographer Gaffney Taylor for this beautiful pictures!

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