Tuesday Aug 25 2009
Young Vike has courage to keep on cheering
By: Brett Ransford, Press Tribune Correspondent
Alyssa Abundis inspires Oakmont Jr. Vikings
Cheerleading in the SYFC often takes a backseat to football. The Oakmont Jr. Vikings however are turning the tide and setting an example. On Saturday Aug. 15, OJV hosted a car wash in support of nine-year-old Jr. Pee Wee cheerleader Alyssa Abundis. In April, Abundis, a two-time national champion cheerleader with OJV, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called non-rhabdomyosarcoma or soft tissue sarcoma. This season, Alyssa has taken a break from cheerleading. For most people that would be depressing, but Alyssa is not most people. Alyssa began chemotherapy and radiation in May. Every three weeks she goes into Kaiser Roseville for a four-day treatment. There have been 26 treatments of radiation with 11 more to come and even more chemotherapy. “I only spend four days here [in the hospital] so it doesn’t really bother me,” Alyssa said. “But I come here so often that it’s kind of starting to be like a second home. Usually it’s me, my mom and my dad spending the night. Sometimes my brothers stay the night too.” Alyssa’s father, Louie, works for Raley’s Distribution Center in Natomas, but takes every day off that his daughter is in the hospital. Louie knows the program well and the people that are willing to help support Alyssa. “I just happened to run into three guys in the parking lot last night when I was leaving practice,” Louie said. “I hadn’t seen them since last year and the first thing they said was ‘Is Alyssa Ok?’ We’re all together all of the time it’s like we’re a big family.” The Abundis family is all involved with youth football, as Louie coaches Alyssa’s brother Marcus on the OJV peewee team. Her older brother Michael student-coaches as well. Alyssa’s mother Amy took a leave of absence from work and to transition Alyssa from Citrus Heights Elementary to homeschooling. “Somebody has to be here with her 24 hours a day,” Amy said. According to Amy, Alyssa really struggled with one round of treatments and lost around ten pounds that week. “She’s actually handled her chemo really well, Amy said. “The day before chemo she’s at almost 100 percent. She’s a very strong little girl, stronger than most adults I know.” The Abundis’ have not asked for any help, yet families within OJV have cooked and delivered meals right to Alyssa’s hospital room. Fundraising began with the Alyssa Abundis Cancer Fund to help support the family with medical costs and the loss of work for both parents. The outpour of support is so large that Mr. and Mrs. Abundis’ cell phones are filled with endless text messages about Alyssa. Players, coaches and cheerleaders of OJV wear their ‘Love and Support Alyssa’ bracelets this season. The red bracelets also happen to be Alyssa’s favorite color. When the temperature is not too hot and Alyssa is feeling well, she is at Oakmont, most recently practicing with her cheer team two weeks ago. “There are no stares, no questions, she is comfortable and can be herself,” said Oakmont Cheer Coordinator Debbie Martino. “She becomes that little happy cheerleader that we all know and love.” Martino and OJV cheer sent out a letter to all 1,500 e-mails in their database as well as the other youth organizations looking for help. According to Martino the response for Alyssa has been very good. “When Alyssa got sick there was no other choice than to come together to help her,” Martino said. “Sisterhood is an understatement. As a cheerleader she is a kind-hearted free spirit. When she first started at six years old, I instantly took to her. She is loved by everyone.” Alyssa's cheer squad is performing in her honor Mon., Aug. 24 at the ‘Chipping Away at Childhood Cancer’ golf tournament. The event is hosted by The Keaton Raphael Memorial, founded by mother Robyn Raphael in memory of her son Keaton. According to statistics from partner organization the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation there are currently more than 270,000 childhood cancer survivors in the United States. “Alyssa is a very outgoing young lady with lots of energy,” said Oakmont Jr. Viking Cheer Coach Shannon Krebs. “She is a great cheerleader and gets along with everyone. I have watched her grow over the last three years and think of her as one of my own girls.” FYI: To make donations to the Alyssa Abundis Cancer Fund, visit www.oakmontjrvikings.org and follow the ‘Information’ tab in the ‘What’s Happening @ OJV’ box and click on ‘Help Alyssa Abundis Fight Cancer.’ Bracelets can also be purchased at games or during the week at the Jr. Viking shed.