Words by Sophia Sunshine Vilceus
It was a brisk Spring morning on Saturday, March 26th, 2016. Between the hours of 8 and 10 a.m. a stream of loved ones trickled in and filled the seats of Applebee’s on Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont.
What could possibly get us all out of our beds and seated at that Applebee’s on an early Saturday morning? Easy. A 26-year-old Elmont native, by the name of Katiana Fongsam, lovingly known as “Kati”, who was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 Cervical Cancer, exactly a month ago to the date.
Family, friends, and loved ones rallied behind our beloved Katiana for a Fundraiser Breakfast, titled “Helping Our Kati,” on the weekend before Katiana was set to begin her Chemo Therapy. It was organized by Katiana’s friends as a way to help support the family with healthcare costs and to ensure that Katiana receives top-of-the-line treatment.
There were raffles and prizes donated by loved ones who owned local businesses. On the back wall was a green poster that loved ones lined up to populate with encouraging thoughts for Katiana.
The ambiance was one filled with hope, smiles, and heavy hearts as we watched Katiana sincerely thank everyone for their love and support. You could hear a pin drop as we all circled around Katiana to hear her speak of her emotional journey so far. To lighten the mood, at the end of her speech, a loved one screamed, “Kati for President!” The crowd erupted in laughter and applause.
Elmont alumni overfilled the intimate space. Faces from different graduating classes locked eyes with one another as we stood in solidarity for Kati. Katiana, being the graceful and sweet young woman that she is, made her rounds and hugged and thanked us deeply for being there, as did her family.
Some of Katiana’s family sat at a table as they counted funds that supporters freely donated throughout the morning. The end of the event was topped off with a group photo of Katiana’s support system, literally standing with her (in the parking lot of Applebee’s, in true Elmont fashion).
Katiana remains a young, vibrant, beautiful, faith-filled girl from Elmont. She is all of us– and her fight with Cancer literally hits close to home. We stand with her as she continuously teaches us on faith and fight. Her spirit truly lights up a room. The way she pulled a whole community together is nothing short of a testament of who she is and who she remains to be even the midst of such a traumatic moment in her life. Let’s continue to rally behind her, keep her in our thoughts and prayers, donate, and spread her message of faith, adversity, and healing.
To donate, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/kfongsurvive. On social media, please use the hashtags, #KatiFightsCancer and #TeamKati.