RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When members of the Felician College softball team agreed to participate in a recent cancer walk, their main goal was to support a teammate. Little did they know how much they would be affected by what they saw that day.
Felician sophomore pitcher Dyonna Pagliocca (Wood-Ridge, N.J./Wood-Ridge) has for the last two years been a role model to a special young lady. Four-year-old Delaney Kurdyla, also of Wood-Ridge, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at age three months. Doctors found cancer on her adrenal gland, liver and lungs.
Pagliocca's mother, Debbie, is a tutor for Delaney, and through that relationship, Pagliocca developed a friendship with the youngster and her mother, Kaitlin. When Pagliocca found out that Kaitlin was a Walk Committee member for the New Jersey CureSearch Walk for Children's Cancers, she was inspired to ask her Felician teammates if they would help the cause.
"A bunch of us donated $10 each, and attended the walk as part of Delaney's team," said Felician senior captain Taylor Parker (Surrey, British Columbia/Semiahmoo). "During the speaking program, cancer survivors would go on stage and introduce themselves, and it was amazing. We think we have hard lives – these little kids survived cancer!"
This year's walk was held on Oct. 25 at Roosevelt Park in Edison. Delaney's team, "Dreams for Delaney," raised the most money of any group in attendance, $9,995 (through Nov. 12). The event has totaled $41,990 in donations, which will fund research geared toward curing children's cancers.
Eighteen months after her diagnosis, Delaney was declared cancer-free. She still suffers from ill effects of her treatment, such as pain, digestion issues, and hearing loss, but the CureSearch event was an opportunity to show her courage.
"She was able to get on that stage and say her name with a big smile on her face," Parker said. "I broke down in tears. For our players to see Delaney and all the other young survivors up there was an amazing experience."
For more about Delaney's story, visit http://www.curesearch.org/Delaney-Kurdyla/
To donate to CureSearch in Delaney's name, go to http://www.curesearchwalk.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=1103831&lis=1&kntae1103831=B6B5A343B9514807967586A02155F18A&team=5982616 and click the Donate Now button.