Support For Christi Thomas

This blog is to help offer support to the Thomas Family and their daughter, Christi, in her battle against cancer. Please visit Christi's website at to learn more. There, you'll find journals, photos and a lots of other information about this amazing child and her family.

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dr. Maris & Dr. Reynolds are doing an ASLF event in Christi's Honor

Some of you may remember, minutes after Christi died in Philadelphia, we had in advance arranged to have some of her stem cells removed and flown to California with the goal of having scientists establish a new cell line for researchers to try to figure out her specific cancer so they could determine how to destroy it so other children would live. Dr. Maris kept stressing we had been through enough and we did not need to do this, but it was our way to "give back" and a way to actually find a cure for Christi's type of cancer. While we watched the nurse extra four huge viles and do the "mini-autopsy" on Christi's still little body, I never prayed so hard asking God to let this work. No other family should ever experience this horror.

Despite being cautioned that likely hood of actually getting this to work and establishing a new cell line was slim to none, months later we received a phone call from Dr. Maris informing us that Dr. Reynolds' lab in California was indeed able to get it growing and despite objections he was able to convince others and meet our only request.......naming it "FU_NB06". (I bet you can figure out why Shayne insisted on that name, lol!) I'm sure you can figure out the FU and the year Christi died (2006), but the NB is the abbreviation for Neuroblastoma, the cancer that killed Christi.

Months later, this news was actually published in "Science" (Vol 315, 5, in 2007). We get occasional updates "here and there" about her cell line. We always hear it is highly requested, especially by new researchers. We think they must like the "looks" like all the other cell line numbers; however, this one has a little twist with the "FU" in the name.

Thanks to researchers sharing with us, we've seen what Christi's cell line looks like under the microscope (an evil, vicious and disgusting beast) and videos used of chemicals trying to destroy it.......without any luck. We've heard researchers say, "Any subtance we've tried on FU-NB-2006 has yet to work. It is incredibly stubborn and resistant."

As you may know, funding for pediatric cancer research is down considerably and therefore it turns to help from private sponsors and individuals. Two weeks ago Dr. Reynolds and Dr. Maris kindly contacted us and asked if they could use Christi and the story about her cell line in their personal fundraising events. They also sweetly praised Shayla and the work she's done with Pediatric Cancer Research Fundraising and could not believe how much she's grown since they last saw her. Dr. Maris and Dr. Reynolds are doing this fundraiser in Christi's honor and named their Alex's Lemonade Stand Event "Cellbusters". Here is the link if you'd like to learn more, donate, or sign up to help run in ALSF's "Million Miles Campaign".

Thanks for your consideration! September 1st begins Pediatric Cancer Awareness month.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

A Dream of Christi's - to go to Heidelberg University! (It just came true!)

I was incredibly touched recently to have the sweet secretary at the Education Department at Heidelberg University contact me and say they would like to include Christi in the mural going outside of the Early Childhood Classroom.  She asked me to come in and meet the artist, and what a talented, sweet and amazing woman Beth is!  I shared a bit about Christi and her connection to the Berg with her and I was so proud of myself for not crying (until I got to my car that is)!  Sherri Bowerman kindly shared photos of Christi with the artist and I headed out.  Much to my surprise and delight I'm blown away by this incredible mural!  The likeness of Christi is mind-boggling and I could not be more appreciative or pleased!  Thank you so much to Beth, Sherri and Heidelberg's Education Department for remembering our "little lemonade girl".  We'll see you soon!  THANKS!

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Summer Thomas Team Update

I see it's been a while since I updated.  I also heard ABC's Nightline re-ran the story about Hope Jackson scamming famous people again.  Thanks so much to those sweet and loving people who reached out to us following the episode.  There are definitely great people in this world!  The "Hope Jacksons" of the world are very few and far between - thank goodness!

All is well here!  We've had a fantastic summer so far!  Shayla competed in the state pageant.  She didn't win, but we all three had a ball at Miss Ohio week.  She was incredibly blessed to have had 64 supporters walk (or bark) beside her car or ride on her Alex's Lemonade Stand float (or stunt and tumble) during the parade.  It was a ton of fun and we are very grateful for the $500.00 donation for ALSF which we were very surprised to receive.  God's people are good!

Following Miss Ohio week, Shayla went with a friend from school to Mackinaw in northern Michigan.  She had a ball.  Once we realized she was not going to be around we decided to do something we would not do with her so we went on a cruise and had the most relaxing vacation ever.

I finished my summer teaching and am thrilled to have obtained three publications this summer so my latest research will be printed and read by fellow educators soon - very exciting!  

Shayla started her driver's education training classes which can be started at 15 1/2 in Ohio.  She's learning a lot - and I am too!  Who knew you failed your driver's test if you took both hands off the wheel?  I didn't, but when I did that at a red light the other day she told me, "You would have just failed your test for that."  Oh, what a hoot!  And one more reminder of how children learn from their parents actions!

Enjoy the rest of your summer, sweet bloggers!  I'll update after the fair!  Keep your fingers crossed that Toby is a good boy for Shayla and that all of the riders stay safe and on their horses!

Here are more of Shayla's state pageant photos:

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Dance Unlimited's Christi Thomas Memorial Scholarships 2014

Thanks to sweet family and friends who attended the dance recital last night. I'm so sorry I didn't make it back to the audience. As I said on stage last night, we knew this year's scholarship presentation would be especially difficult.Christi danced with all 8 beautiful Seniors and we have loved watching them grow up over the years and we look to them with great fondness because we see a bit of Christi reflected in each of these young ladies! They make us feel close to Christi and we love and adore them all! Almost all of them wrote about Christi in their scholarship essays and we thank them for sharing their personal and precious memories of her with us! We laughed and we cried reading the applications and trying to select our winner. Ultimately, we decided they were all winners and all needed to receive scholarships. Therefore congratulations to the $500.00 scholarship winners: Fran, Emily E., Emily F., Taylor, Kendra, Ceci & Kaitlyn. Congratulations to the $1,000 Christi Thomas Memorial Scholarship Winner: Allison Arnold. (Picture: Seniors with Shayla).

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Christi's Class Graduated and an Honorary Diploma Awarded to Christi!

Months ago we were notified by the Seneca East High School principal that some of Christi's classmates had asked for Christi to be awarded an honorary diploma with them at graduation. You can't even believe how very touched we were by that - amazing kindness and thoughtfulness! Little did we know they would give us reserved seats, escort our family out and have a balloon release with "Christi" written on every balloon. I cried before, during and afternoon the ceremony - of course missing Christi and longing for her to be there and wondering what she'd be like today, but also crying tears of joy for amazing students we are so proud of and for their incredible compassion and love still shown for our family and for our bubbly little one who I know is always with them.

This is my favorite picture!  I had no idea they were doing a balloon release after the ceremony!  We were escorted out after the graduates by the principal and superintendent and given a balloon.  I saw Christi's name on it and assumed each graduate had a balloon with their own name on it, then I realized every balloon had the same thing on it!  Sooooooo sweet!

I quickly thanked every School Board Member and Administrator and told them we really appreciated their kindness.  

What an amazing school district filled with compassionate and thoughtful kids, families, teachers and administrators!  I obviously wish Christi would have lived and graduated, but I am so grateful for this very loving act of all!  God bless, Seneca East!

Definitely a bitter sweet day.  I cried before, during and after just thinking about Christi and her "all too short life" and all that she could have become here on earth.  I also cried with happiness for her sweet classmates who will go on to do great things and who will never forget our bubbly little giggly one!

Wow!  So kind!  Christi's honorary diploma from Seneca East High School

We are grateful for this quite little spot in front of the school.

Christi's brick

A hug from one of Christi's best friends - Kaylyn who will always be treasured by our whole family.

I had the pleasure of serving as Owen's kindergarten and 7th grade teacher.  Christi always liked Owen so of course we all did!  He is a class act and was voted Class President.  Congratulations, sweet Owen!  We love you!

Shayla with Christi's other best friend, Theresa!  We are so glad she's not going too far away for college; this way we can always be there for her if she ever needs us!

Ben was one of Christi's favorite guys.  She always had great things to tell us about Ben as she really enjoyed being around him at school.  Our very best wishes to a fine young man!

As soon as I realized all of the graduates' balloons had the same thing written on them, I started crying again.  Too sweet!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Congratulations to Christi's Classmates!

I put together a little collage of all of the Christi Thomas Memorial Scholarship Winners from Christi's class at Seneca East this year.  We celebrate them all and wish them the very, very best!  Congrats!  We will see you at graduation!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Christi Thomas 8th Annual Memorial Scholarships Awarded - to her classmates

Monday night we presented the 8th annual Christi Thomas Memorial Scholarships to students at Seneca East. This one was particularly special and also the most emotional and difficult of all because they went to Christi's classmates (and my former sweet 7th grade students).  This year's essays were the most touching we've ever received and we treasure the great memories and stories many of them shared with us about Christi - some we had never heard before.  We know they loved her too and she has impacted their life and for that we are grateful.
$1,000 Winners and four of the nicest young ladies you will ever meet! Theresa & Kaylyn were Christi's best friends and we see a bit of Christi in all of them. Kristen & Camiel wrote very thoughtful, loving and touching essays about Christi. Benjamin Frankart wrote an INCREDIBLE essay about Christi and he received a $1,5000 scholarship (not pictured). We love them all to the moon and back!!

$750.00 Scholarship Winners (not pictured: Tori S.) Great, great, great kiddos! I'm so proud of them! I was blessed to be their 7th grade teacher too. Christi loved being with them and while it breaks our heart she's not with them, we know she's with them in spirit wherever they go and in them we see a bit of her 

Group Photo of the 2014 Christi Thomas Memorial Scholarship winners pictures with the three of us. Congrats to Christi's classmates! We love you all wish you the very, very best! You make us proud!

Much to my surprise and delight, Shayla asked if she could give the speech this year.  I really dislike doing it because it's emotionally draining so I was thrilled when she volunteered.  She said she feels really close to Christi's classmates (We all do!) and she felt called to do this.  I hope someone will share a picture or a video with me because I am so proud of her.

We thought she did a fabulous job, better than we ever would have.  With great poise and pleasantries, she walked to the microphone and spoke about Christi, like how she loved being around Christi and that Christi could even make a trip to the dentist a great adventure.  She shared with them how Christi's story impacted others and how we received a letter from a man in prison who said because of Christi he prayed for the first time in his life. She talked about Christi's 161 IQ and how proud she made us because of her amazing mind.  Shayla shared that Christi gave us faith and hope and that her classmates let her joke around with them and act silly and goofy.  It was around them that Christi could really enjoy life and not worry about having medicines pumped through her veins.  We wish these students the very, very best and know that Christi will be with them in spirit as they go off to different universities in the fall.  (And three are coming my way so I'm pretty pleased about that!  I can always be "mom" to one more BG student who wants or needs me!)

$1,500 Scholarship:  Benjamin Frankart
$1,000 Scholarships:  Theresa Barger, Kristen Bowerman, Kaylyn Goshe and Camiel Stacy Ruffing
$750 Scholarships:  Owen Best, Kimberly Ebata, Alyssa England, Evan Fritz, Amy Martin, Victoria Pisarsky, Cody Stombagh, Anna Willman and Jason Willman.
*Missing in Photo:  Benjamin Frankart & Tori Pisarsky