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Destiny hopes to make folks aware that kids get cancer

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Destiny hopes  to make folks  aware that  kids get cancer

On Sunday, Destiny Herrera led a group of about 40 in a release of gold balloons at Woodward Park in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Herrera, 10, is battling osteosarcoma.

Photos contributed/

POSTED September 5, 2013 1:07 a.m.

Like a balloon caught in the wind, bouncing from cloud to cloud, Destiny’s challenge can be seen from parts of the country.

Friends and family, united by Facebook and other social media sites, have championed the cause. There has even been a submission from Georgia.

Each has posted a picture or video with a gold ribbon and a sign that reads “Destiny made me aware kids get cancer, too.”

Here’s a little known fact: September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

“A lot of people aren’t aware of that,” said Sabrina Herrera, Destiny’s mother. “I wasn’t aware of that prior to my daughter’s diagnosis.”

Destiny Herrera was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in May of last year, turning her life upside down. The 10-year-old fifth grader had to stop dancing and then watched with tears in her eyes as her hair – as long as she was tall – slowly fall out.

“(Dancing) is her passion. It’s what she wants to do,” Sabrina said. “Dancing was how she expressed her feelings. Now that she has all these feelings to express, she can’t dance.”

Destiny was also forced to withdraw from Veritas Elementary School and is now on a home-and-hospital program.

She also suffers from kidney failure from the chemotherapy, Sabrina said, but her long-term prognosis remains encouraging.

“To grasp onto the positives,” Sabrina said, “it’s looking good. She’s fighting it. Her spirit is so full; she lives life to the fullest.”

That spirit fuels a month-long campaign building momentum. Destiny’s challenge is simple: She has asked family, friends and strangers to post a picture or video to Facebook and to join her on Sunday evenings throughout September at Woodward Park.

There, at exactly 5 o’clock, Destiny will lead a collection of family and friends in a balloon release. Together, they’ll fill the sky with gold balloons in honor of the children diagnosed with a cancer and those that have received their “angel wings.”

On Sunday, about 40 people joined Destiny for the first release.

“We’re trying to do our part to spread awareness,” Sabrina said. “Awareness will equal more funding toward childhood cancer research.”

This campaign sprouted from the imagination of a deep-thinking 10-year-old.

On the way home from the Children’s Hospital in Oakland, Destiny, who writes her own music and longs to pen a children book, wondered how they could spread awareness.

Sabrina turned to social media.

The response was immediate – and overwhelming.

Childhood cancers make up less than 1 percent of all cancers diagnosed each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Each school day, Children Battling Cancer reports 46 children are diagnosed with a form of cancer and seven die.

“She’s accomplishing what she wants,” Sabrina said proudly. “She wants to make people aware.”

Running in the Hall:

Sierra will honor 3

Sierra High’s third Hall of Fame class has some kick to it.

Vice Principal Greg Leland announced the inductees Wednesday.

The school will enshrine the 1995 boys cross country team and the 1998 girls soccer team on Sunday, Sept. 29, during a ceremony at Chez Shari.

Retired teacher Ed Almaas, one of the high school’s founding fathers and a former Manteca Unified School District teacher of the year, will also be inducted.

The 1995 boys cross country team, coached by Mike Rosendin, was the school’s first Sac-Joaquin Section championship team. The Timberwolves won the Division IV crown just one year after opening. That season, Sierra finished 10th at the CIF State Cross Country Division IV Championships.

A girls’ title wasn’t too far behind.

In 1998, the girls soccer program, coached then as it is now by Manuel Pires, finally reached the mountaintop with a 1-0 victory over St. Mary’s in the Division I section final.

The Timberwolves had reached the semifinal round in back-to-back seasons from 1996-97, before finally breaking through.

“To me it’s one of those moments you’ll never ever forget,” Pires said. “That was the first senior group that was there at Sierra High School for all four years. To win that title before they left was an incredible moment.

“That team, soccer-wise,” he added, “we had quite a few girls that understood the game. They could play against anybody.”

Almaas was a man of the campus before he retired in 2005. The former Social Science Department chair was also an assistant football coach, chair of the WASC committees the length of his tenure and an instrumental player in the school’s current block schedule.

He also helped found the Lobo Gold program; Study Skills program; and Strategic Team Planning Committee.

The ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m.

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