2024 Celebration Run/Walk Co-Chairs – Leslie Moore-Martinez & Ava Grivalski
This year, we are excited to have our first-ever mother/daughter duo as Celebration Run/Walk Co-Chairs! This is a first for the Fund, and we’d like to share their story.
Leslie and Ava’s journey with the Fund began in 2021 when they purchased raffle tickets for our pink boat raffle with Savannah Boats. Leslie, like so many others, has lost several family members to cancer and wanted to support charity with her raffle ticket entry. To their surprise, they won the pink boat and proudly shared their raffle story and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund mission with everyone they met while boating. Leslie often jokes that she has become the unofficial ambassador on the water.
To Leslie’s surprise, several months later she was diagnosed with a rare breast cancer, which only occurs in 1-2% of women. She underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy and several surgeries. In addition to being a wife and mother to a high school student, she owns several local businesses filled with people she calls her extended family. She shares that one of the best things a friend said to her was, “It’s okay to ask for help.” With tremendous support, Leslie took the time necessary to focus on her health and remains grateful to those who helped her through this journey. Since ringing the remission bell in January, Leslie has dedicated herself to helping others with their cancer journey, raising awareness and fundraising.
Ava was a rising junior in high school at the time of her mom’s diagnosis. When her mom was facing a potential blood transfusion, she learned that cancer patients are the greatest recipients of blood transfusions. To find a way to support her mom and others, Ava overcame her fear of needles and began giving blood regularly. She went on to plan and coordinate blood drives with the Blood Connection and was able to include a charity partnership with every blood donation. Not only is she helping to support the local blood supply, she has helped raise thousands of dollars naming the Kay Yow Cancer Fund as the benefactor to support cancer research. Ava, now a senior in high school, has earned a red honors cord to wear when she graduates to signify her commitment to helping save lives and is still making an impact and continues to plan local blood drives.
When talking to Ava, you can easily see the love and admiration she has for her mom, not to mention her dedication to helping find a cure for cancer. Ava has been using her voice at school to spread awareness about blood drives and the impact they have on cancer patients. We know Ava has a bright future ahead of her, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
It is truly heartwarming to see these two working together with so much love and compassion for others. They both feel a connection with the Kay Yow Fund and feel being co-chairs has created an opportunity for a “full circle.” They plan to add a QR code to their boat which will include their story and encourage others to donate and support the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. One of Coach Yow’s favorite sayings was, “When life kicks you, let it kick you forward” – Leslie & Ava have certainly been kicking it forward.
Be sure to join Leslie, Ava and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund team at the 2024 Celebration Run/Walk honoring cancer survivors, thrivers, caregivers and those in the fight to end all cancers affecting women! Register today.