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Dublin Community Rallies for Wells Middle School Student’s Fight Against Cancer

July 29, 2012

Nicole Malone (second from left) with Family

Community\ n a group of people with a common characteristic or interest in living together within a larger society.

Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines the term accurately, albeit in a dry way. For residents of Dublin and the Tri-Valley, the word “community” is experienced in a very vibrant and human fashion. An illustration of this fact was demonstrated on Friday at the Dublin Swim Center – adjacent to the Dublin High School campus.

The travails of Nicole Malone and her family have been well-chronicled over the past five years. While as a student at Frederiksen Elementary School, Nicole was diagnosed with a rather rare form of Lymphoma – one that typically targets young people. Once she successfully endured a regimen of radiation and chemotherapy treatments, Nicole made a triumphant return to the classroom in the fall. Throughout this process, she was aided by a home schooling service provided by the Dublin Unified School District. By definition, one is pronounced “cancer-free” subsequent to five years of treatment. However, this condition changed in late March 2012. Discomfort in one of her legs cancelled her accompaniment of the Wells Middle School band trip to Disneyland and another battery of examinations were ordered up.

Immediately, Nicole’s parents Janet and Tim and brother, Timmy (Tim Jr.) immersed themselves into treatment modalities. These ranged from receiving treatment from the Oakland Children’s Hospital, Stanford University, UC Los Angeles, the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and St. Jude Research Hospital. At the same time, the local community stepped forward to support the family. A Shutterfly site was established to help provide basic needs such as meals and gift cards and Dublin High School hosted a baseball double-header to raise funds for the family. However, the treatment/recovery process is a marathon and the expenses for treatment/travel are ongoing. An idea to help even more was hatched at the Dublin Swim Center on Village Parkway.

Kagan Wilkinson is a 2010 Dublin High School graduate. He has also been an active member of the Green Gators Swim Team for over 13 years. He has served as an Assistant Coach for three years and is currently a student at Diablo Valley College with hopes of transferring to BYU in the next year. What is your personal/family history with the Green Gators Swim Team?

Kagan Wilkinson (left)

Kagan Wilkinson: “I started when I first moved here in the fourth grade and have loved it ever since. It has been great for me because of the great opportunities and people who I have met over the years. The family atmosphere is so fun to spend over the summer and I look forward to it every year.” What was your role in establishing the “Laps of Love for Nicole” event?

Wilkinson: My sister, Tait, and Nicole are classmates. A swimmer on our team asked us to run a fundraiser through our snack bar to help their family. My Dad and I further developed the idea to organize a swim-a-thon as we thought this could be a fundraiser that would involve the community to a larger degree. We approached the swim team board and also gained approval from the City of Dublin to donate the pool time/resources. We knew that if the word got out that people throughout the region would show their support.” Can you provide an approximation of the number of swimmers that participated and the number of laps completed?

Wilkinson: “There were probably over 100 swimmers that participated. I would say that anywhere between 20 to 200 laps per swimmer due to age and ability levels. For total laps – I would guess in the thousands – but I’m not quite sure.

“Just a huge thank you to everyone that came out and especially to those that put time and effort into making it such a successful event. The Malone’s are such a great family. It didn’t take a second of thought to want to do anything to help take a load off of their shoulders in any way that we could.”

Friday’s pool was sun-sparkled as scores of participants ran their laps. There were also many lap counters on the deck marking their accomplishments. Two snack counters were selling sweets to supplement the fundraiser. Additionally, there was fundraising booth to collect donations to the cause. The overall vibe was like a summer festival. To gain a family perspective, spoke with Nicole’s mother Janet Malone. How is Nicole? What is her state of mind and condition?

Janet Malone: “Her state of mind is always positive and she wants to visit friends and family and looks forward to being at school when she feels well. After consulting with the physicians, we will continue with her treatment at Children’s Hospital of Oakland. Based upon the consensus of the doctors, this is our best path.” What was your overall impression of the event?

Malone: “All I can say is Wow. We’re truly humbled. It makes me want to cry to know how wonderful this community is and how it is holding us up. Just watching all of the people in the pool and on the deck was great. We saw a lot of familiar faces and new faces as well. God is good and he shows his ways in which you cannot explain.” What would your family like to express to all that came out today and any other thoughts?

Malone: “We would like to thank everyone who was at this great event from the bottom of our hearts. Cancer is such a horrible disease. It can feel very lonely going through this and so scary, but I have to say that we are not traveling this alone. Nicole is such a special spirit and she teaches me something new every day. I have been blessed with a wonderful daughter, a son and husband. Life is good so please always live, laugh and love.”

An account has been established at Safe America Credit Union. Contributions may be made in “Care of Nicole Malone” at Account# 999090095. 6001 Gibraltar Drive Pleasanton, CA 94588.