Spirit Halloween fundraiser helps pediatric patients

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A fundraising initiative is giving pediatric patients the chance to get to celebrate special moments in their lives while receiving treatment.

Spirit Halloween’s Spirit of Children program is a fundraiser that helps local child life programs. Those programs provide activities for kids and families in the hospital.

Last year, Raif, a 7-year-old boy, was one of those patients. He was receiving treatment in the hospital for a discovered tumor.

"At almost exactly this time last year, we found out he had a tumor in his kidney," Laura Farris, Raif’s mom, said, "and so he ended up having emergency surgery and was in the PICU during Halloween."

According to Raif’s mom, the tumor was 11.5 cm by 15 cm. Raif needed surgery to remove the tumor and his right kidney. He also required radiation and chemotherapy after doctors found out the tumor had spread.

"We also found out that it had spread to his lungs so it was stage four," Raif’s mother said.

After a year of missing out on so much in his young life, he was about to miss out on Halloween while going through treatments – until Spirit Halloween showed up with the surprise costume from the Spirit of Children program.

"He was feeling really bad because he just had surgery and he was upset because he couldn’t trick or treat," Raif’s mother said, "and so the costume was really a big help and a lifeline for him because he was missing out on so much."

Raif finished chemotherapy June 17 and currently undergoes monthly tests. His family feels anxious about the scans but is doing better than last year. This year, they are also giving back to the program that helped him get to this point.

"We want to bring awareness to programs like this, to Presbyterian Hospital and to childhood cancer programs itself because they don’t get the funding they need – four percent of research dollars goes to childhood cancer," Raif’s father said.

"We make sure to ask each and every single customer," Spirit Halloween NM district manager Jesse Orion said. "You have the option to do anything from rounding up to the next dollar to donating a million dollars – whatever you have."

Spirit Halloween is collecting donations at all of their New Mexico stores. The money will help bring fun and funding to hospitals to allow children like Raif to enjoy themselves while going through treatment.

To learn more about the Spirit of Children program, click here.