ABC13 walked to help fight childhood cancers at 2022 Candlelighters Houston Fun Walk

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Monday, September 12, 2022
ABC13 walks to help fight childhood cancer
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Lace up your shoes and watch ABC13 at Terry Hershey Park for the Candlelighters Houston Fun Walk, supporting families fighting childhood cancers.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and many supported families fighting these diseases by lacing up their running shoes.

Families showed up to the Candlelighters Houston Fun Walk on Sept. 10 at Terry Hershey Park. The ABC13 family walked with them for a good cause.

"It is our mission in motion...because we are walking alongside childhood cancer families every step of the way," Associate director Kelsey Tarpinian said.

Candlelighters set a goal for walkers at 4,491 steps, representing every single child the organization has helped through the years.

Their focus is to help families with out-of-pocket expenses that can add up over time, like parking and everyday meals. Tarpinian said families can accumulate up to $5,000 in parking fees alone over the course of a child's treatment.

On average, Texas Children's Hospital sees 4,220 new cancer patients every year from the U.S and around the globe. But still, many families are local and commute to the hospital.

Candlelighters Houston celebrates its 29th year in September. Annually, it sees about 300 new families sign up for assistance and services.

The Fun Walk helped raise awareness and funds for the foundation to continue its services for cancer families in Houston.

WATCH: ABC13 producer shares cancer signs after her daughter was diagnosed

Tarpinian explained that once a child is diagnosed with cancer, the entire family becomes involved and everyone is part of the journey.

"Our number one request is emotional support," Tarpinian said.

Parents of children who have conquered cancer become consultants for the parents of newly-diagnosed patients. Linda Pena was one of those parents at Candlelighters.

When her daughter was diagnosed in 2010, Pena said she leaned on her parent consultant for support.

"It was very heartwarming to know that we were not alone, and that someone was there that cared about my family," Pena said.

As Pena provides guidance to the families of young cancer fighters at Texas Children's Hospital, her daughter, Emily, now 18, volunteers her time with Candlelighters.

"What a family really needs and wants is to have another parent, to have another friend there that knows what you are going through and is there to listen," Pena said.

To make a donation, visit the Candlelighters' website.