Throughout her mother's long battle with breast cancer, Riley Castellano, a junior at Woodgrove High School in Purcellville, says she always felt the support of the community. Friends, neighbors and family were unwavering in their assistance – providing Riley and her brother Ben with rides to practices, meals and emotional guidance for her mom, Kim, and dad, Mike, while Kim was going through treatment.
After her mother passed away in January 2018, Riley and her close friend Anna Lockhart started a club at their high school as a support group for kids who are affected by cancer. About 30 students have participated in the club, which has held two meetings this year.
Lockhart and Castellano decided to take the club a step further by creating a nonprofit organization, Our Perfect Warrior Foundation. The group plans to support families who are going through any type of cancer diagnosis. The goal is to rally other students – and the community at large – to raise money and volunteer to help reduce stress on families by assisting with day-to-day household needs.
The community is invited to Our Perfect Warrior Foundation's inaugural event Oct. 26 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Coach's Corner Grill in the Purcellville Gateway Shopping Center. The celebration will feature live music, door prizes, raffles and a bake sale. Funds raised will be used to create chemotherapy care packages, which will be personalized depending on each patient's needs. More information about the event can be found at the Our Perfect Warrior Foundation page on Facebook.
Castellano said her mother enjoyed coloring during her treatment, and other people might prefer knitting or reading a book or magazine to keep their minds occupied.
“People have different interests, so we would like to find out more about the person we are giving the chemo care packages to so they will be personalized,” she said.
The nonprofit will also offer rides to sports practices or other extracurricular activities, homework and tutoring help, and gift cards for meals.
“We are making good out of something so hard. We want other kids to know we are here to help when they are going through a difficult time,” Lockhart said.
Castellano said she is passionate about giving back to a community that gave so much to her family during a difficult time. She also wants to do something special to honor her mother.
“It makes me feel good to know I'm helping people in my mom's honor and we are turning her sickness into something better than what it was,” Castellano said.