Saturday event to raise money for child cancer patients

Published 12:02 am Friday, October 23, 2015

MONTEREY — Monterey High School’s baseball field will be a hive of activity Saturday, sporting a marathon and a softball tournament.

It’s not a field day, though. Instead, it’s a fundraiser for 3-year-old Aiden Taunton of Monterey.

Approximately three weeks ago, Aiden had an MRI because she was experiencing behavioral changes and vision problems. The scan revealed an inoperable brain tumor, and Aiden was eventually diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).

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Fundraiser organizer Jessica Ryan is friends with Aiden’s mother, Megan Taunton, and said she and some other friends found out through a group text from Megan that the tumor had been found.

“Next thing we knew, they were on their way to Memphis, to St. Jude,” Ryan said.

Aiden is currently at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and she began undergoing chemo and radiation therapy this week.

Almost immediately after the diagnosis, Megan’s friend Jamie Cloessner said the community started coming together to figure out what they could do for Aiden. The idea for the benefit came together piece by piece, with different people adding different ideas.

“It’s kind of been a community effort with everyone coming together to get it done,” Cloessner said.

The event will have a 5K walk/run marathon, a softball tournament, live and silent auctions, a barbecue dinner sale, a bake sale and concessions, assisted by a group of approximately 30 volunteers.

All of the money goes to Aiden’s mother, Megan, and father, Collin, to help pay their expenses as they spend time away from their jobs and home with Aiden in Memphis for the next four to five weeks.

“I just hope this tournament will bring in a lot of money so that’s not something they even have to think about so they can all be up there with Aiden,” Cloessner said.

Registration for the marathon starts at 8 a.m. and costs $30 to participate. Ryan, who organized the event, said 20 people have preregistered, but she is expecting more to register the day of the event.

The marathon begins at 9 a.m. and the softball tournament starts an hour later. The 12 teams consist of community members who put together teams and paid $100 to participate.

Admission is free for observers and a bounce house will be available for children.

Meanwhile, a silent auction will be held in the cafeteria from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by a live auction at 3 p.m. Visitors can browse and bid on a Yeti package, photography session and other items donated from local businesses.

The event is scheduled to last all day.

“We’re just going to be there until we’re done playing softball and everyone’s gotten food to eat and the auction’s over,” Cloessner said.

While the overall goal is to raise money for the family, Cloessner hopes the event will also raise awareness of what the family is going through and increase prayers. Ryan said she hopes Aiden’s family will see how much support they have.

“I just hope that they see that everyone loves their little girl and we’re here for them,” Ryan said. “I think the community is coming together in a really big way to do that.”