MORE: Team Mathias unleashing childhood cancer awareness
A ceremony honoring Mathias Giordano, a Leesburg teenager battling bone cancer, will be held Dec. 1 at Belmont Country Club in Ashburn.
The celebration will include local state Del. Tag Greason (R-32nd) presenting a copy of legislation aimed at creating a Childhood Cancer Awareness license plate to Giordano’s parents.
Greason showed the bill to a struggling Mathias Nov. 22. Mathias responded, “this is epic,” according to a family friend of the Giordanos.
The Giordanos and “Team Mathias,” a locally launched group of Mathias’ ralliers, have been foot soldiers in the fight to spread awareness about childhood cancers in the two-and-a-half years since Mathias, now 13, was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma.
Part of the campaign involved adding a childhood cancer awareness license plate to Virginia’s collection. Roya Giordano, Mathias’ mother, was dumbfounded when she learned such a plate doesn't exist as her son was wrestling with his disease.
Original story: Nov. 20
Once again, a Loudoun County family faced with the bleak reality of childhood cancer is waging a spirited awareness campaign to remind people the dreadful disease does not discriminate.
And if their campaign succeeds, as it seems poised to do, the Giordanos of Leesburg will soon have a very visible sign to show for their efforts – a new Virginia license plate donning the gold childhood cancer awareness ribbon.
Mathias Giordano, 13, was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, cancer of the bone, in July 2012. In the years since, the local boy has endured more than 50 rounds of chemo and radiation, major lung surgeries and a below-the-knee amputation of his right leg.
His prognosis is rough, but through it all, Mathias has injected a vibrant, all-smiles teenage mindset to the fight.
“Mathias has always been very positive and very competitive. So to him, winning the fight and keeping on fighting is like a game,” Roya Giordano, Mathias' mother, said of her son.
If Mathias' name sounds familiar, it's probably because you've seen the barrage of “Team Mathias” alerts and upliftings on social media. The license plates are just one facet of the “Team's” outreach.
To give an indication of Mathias' fan base, state law requires 450 signed and paid petitions to advance a new “special interest” plate. Team Mathias collected more than 600 in just 10 days.
With the special aid of Jay Coakley, a local cancer awareness advocate who spearheaded the petition campaign, and state Del. Tag Greason (R-32nd), who will introduce legislation to advance the license plate plan, the Giordanos and their team will likely realize at least a minor victory in the grueling fight.
With Mathias' condition worsening in recent weeks, Greason hopes to fast-track the bill when the General Assembly returns in January. The local delegate expressed optimism his colleagues will approve the bill.
But before then, Greason and Team Mathias plan to have a ceremony to present Mathias a framed copy of the text of the legislation. The presentation will likely come within the next week, Greason said.
“We want Mathias and his family to see some concrete evidence that his journey and struggle and their passion will result in increased awareness about childhood cancer in the commonwealth,” he said.
Commented Roya, “Seeing the gold ribbon is going to mean a lot.”
“I know the awareness will be out there,” she said.
The Giordanos' experience is sadly similar to another Leesburg family, Mark and Ellyn Miller, who lost their daughter, Gabriella, to cancer in October 2013. The Millers, who live in the same neighborhood as the Giordanos, also managed a win in the battle. Following Gabriella's advocacy and death, Congress passed the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act to fund pediatric cancer research.
Speaking of the past two-and-a-half years, Roya Giordano said, “This is the new reality, and we just have to deal with it the best way we can.”
“For Team Mathias, our mission is to promote childhood cancer awareness, we're covering all childhood cancer,” she said. “Forty-six kids are being diagnosed every day, and seven of those kids will die. It's heartbreaking.”
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