As you read this, Ashleigh Hunt is in Europe, fulfilling one of the remaining items on her bucket list.
Ashleigh, age 23 and a 2011 alumna of Delaware Hayes High School, is probably too young to have a bucket list. Right?
However, for the past four years, she’s been battling a rare form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. Physicians discovered the disease in August 2013 and Ashleigh’s received chemotherapy and other treatment.
According to the Mayo Clinic, only about 20,000 cases of osteosarcoma are diagnosed in the United States each year. Sadly, the majority of those cases involve children and young adults.
Ashleigh’s doctors found a malignant tumor in one of her lungs in April 2016. After consulting with her doctors and her family, Ashleigh began compiling her bucket list.
“Ashleigh has created a bucket list,” Jodi Rupp, Ashleigh’s mother, posted on the Facebook page Prayers for Ashleigh, Fighting Osteo Sarcoma, on April 18, 2016. “We’ve discussed it with her doctor. He is going to give us a heads up on the best time for her to take a trip for one of her bucket list items. She wants to go to Europe and Hawaii.”
Jodi uses the Facebook page to keep Ashleigh’s friends and supporters updated about her condition and progress. In each post, you can feel the depth of emotion from a mother who would do anything, absolutely anything, for her child.
On Wednesday evening, Jodi posted photographs of Ashleigh aboard an airliner at Logan International Airport in Boston, ready to begin a trans-Atlantic journey to Dublin, Ireland.
“Ashleigh is ready for bed. She’s pretty excited about being able to lay down and sleep on our way to Dublin,” Jodi posted on the page prior to takeoff. “Thank you all so much for all of your support. This could not happen without you!”
The trip, Jodi wrote in a post on Aug. 20, includes stops Ireland, Scotland, England, and Paris, France.
Family, friends, and complete strangers have supported Ashleigh and her family throughout this ordeal. Celebrities like NASCAR driver Joey Logano have reached out to the family and have been extremely generous. She’s checked off numerous items on her list over the past year, traveling to Hawaii, New York City, a NASCAR race, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Florida, to name a few.
Joining the fight, the Delaware Girls Lacrosse Club has planned a fundraiser for Ashleigh and her family. The event Laxin for Ashleigh is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 16 at Cornell Stadium, 289 Euclid Avenue. Roni Saxby, president of the Delaware Girls Lacrosse Club board of directors, said the fundraiser will begin at 2 p.m. and run until 6:30 p.m.
“Part of our goal as a club is to convey to our girls the importance of leadership, strength, values, and giving back to their community,” Saxby said. “We thought Ashleigh’s cause would be the perfect embodiment of who we are as an organization and decided to make this fundraiser a priority moving into the school year.”
Saxby said the proceeds from the event will help Ashleigh’s family cover expenses related to her treatment and items on her bucket list.
“We’re trying to help her accomplish it by raising money to pay for medical bills, or travel, or whatever she sees fit,” Saxby said.
Activities on Saturday include lacrosse matches for players ages 8 to 18. A raffle and silent auction will be conducted. A selfie booth will be available for “a nominal fee,” Saxby said.
Cancer survivor Todd Waites will be the guest speaker. At age 14, his arm and shoulder were amputated and he then endured rigorous post-surgery treatment. Waites has since become a successful musician, executive, and motivational speaker.
Saxby said area businesses have lent their support to Laxin for Ashleigh.
“As a team, we have secured several sponsors from the community, most notable being the Delaware County Fair, which donated two grandstand seats for the Little Brown Jug, and Buffalo Wild Wings, which is donating 10 percent of each check for patrons that mention Delaware Girls Lacrosse Club on Saturday and Sunday,” Saxby said.
Admission to Laxin for Ashleigh is a suggested donation of $5 per person. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Ashleigh, visit her Facebook page Prayers for Ashleigh, Fighting Osteo Sarcoma.
Contact Andrew Carter at 740-413-0900. Follow him on Twitter @DelOhioEditor.