By Linda Lane
A series of fundraisers have been underway to help a Vicksburg family whose daughter is battling cancer. Samantha Meyers, who had been a special education teacher with Schoolcraft Middle School, quit her job to care for her 10-year-old daughter, Riley. Riley was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer with a large tumor on her right kidney and nodules in both of her lungs. Proceeds from the fundraisers go to Riley’s family to help with medical and day-to-day expenses.
Long Lake Roller Rink will host a roller skating fundraiser March 24 from 5-7 p.m., $10 per person or $30 per family. “My mom and dad went on their first date at that Roller Rink and I’ve going there since I was a little girl. It’s a family tradition,” Meyers said.
A lively fourth-grader who brings a smile to everyone’s face, Riley named her tumor, “Robert.” With the flu running rampant and Riley having a compromised immune system from treatments, her retired third-grade teacher, Lynn McDaniel from Vicksburg’s Tobey Elementary, helps keep her from falling behind while she is homebound. Riley glows with happiness when McDaniel visits and tutors her, as she has been Riley’s favorite teacher.
Recent CT scans presented good news: the nodules in the lungs and the tumor on the kidney are shrinking, with Robert, the tumor, shrunk to nearly half its original size. Riley has endured her seven rounds of chemotherapy, with five more to go to shrink the tumor before doctors determine if they can operate and remove it. The goal is to save as much of her kidney as possible.
“It’s amazing how strong Riley has been through all of this. Really, she’s been stronger than I have been,” said Samantha Meyers. “In spite of everything she’s been through, she just still brings a smile to everyone’s face that she sees.”
Maya Grossman, a fellow fourth-grader and friend of Riley’s, enlisted her sister’s help to help raise funds for Riley’s family. The “Partners in Slime, LLC” business began at the end of the summer when Sadie Grossman and her partner, Avery Sands, pitched the business prospect to Sadie’s mom and dad, Katie and Brett Grossman, to produce slime to sell at craft shows and online. When Riley was diagnosed with cancer, the girls turned their slime business from a for-profit into a fundraiser for Riley. In just 5-6 weeks, they have raised over $1,000, selling the slime at Tobey’s parent-teacher conferences, order forms with Sunset Elementary and at a wrestling tournament, and on Facebook.
The Partners in Slime developed some special slime with Riley in mind: “Orange Crush” to crush Robert (her tumor) and “Green Giant” (Riley’s favorite color, green). The slimes are often scented and may have textures, embellishments, or other surprises in the containers of slime, like eyeballs, unicorns, rainbow foam beads, or skeleton parts. Jars of slime cost $4 for a four-ounce container, with the $2 profit going to Riley’s family. Types of slime include Zombie, Cotton Candy, Twizzlers, Marshmallow, Confetti Cake Batter, Unicorn, Green Giant, and Orange Crush.
In addition to the slime fundraising, Tobey Elementary hosted a dinner and movie night, with a silent auction, at Vicksburg High School where over 250 people turned out to support Riley’s family. Almost $4,300 was raised at the event. Tobey also did a penny/change drive which raised over $800, with kids literally emptying piggybanks into the coin containers. Additionally, T-shirts and wristbands have been for sale. Several stores in the area have also started donation buckets to support Riley’s cause, including Daane’s Party Store and the Daily Grind Café.
Anyone interested in contributing to Riley’s family can go to GoFundMe.com and search for Team Riley Strong. Orders for slime can be placed at upcoming fundraisers and information can be found on Facebook – Team Riley Strong– via order forms. They even offer local delivery.