Delilah Ortiz spent her birthday last year in the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Instead of receiving presents, the 11-year-old cancer survivor gave them away to children on the cancer ward.
“I tell kids my age that it will be better and that their friends are praying for them,” Delilah said. “For younger kids, I tell them they’ll be able to play in the park again.”
It’s Delilah’s caring and giving nature that is motivating boxing trainer Ashley Guarrasi to raise money for her friend.
“She’s just so inspiring to me because she puts life into perspective,” Guarrasi told The Garden Island. “Someone at such a young age is so positive and always joking — despite what she really goes through and endures on the daily.”
To help pay for the 11-year-old’s medical costs, Guarrasi set up a GoFundMePage — run4delilah — and will run for Delilah this Sunday at the Kauai half marathon.
“I am thankful (Ashley) is doing this for me,” Delilah said. “She’s a really nice and kind person. She’s really caring.”
As of Thursday, the page exceeded its goal by almost $400, which totals $1,380. By the end of the race, Guarrasi expects to raise about $2,000 for her Delilah and her family.
Guarrasi is no stranger to the Garden Isle, as her parents currently reside on island.
“Kauai has a special meaning for me because I’ve been going there since I was young,” she said. “I thought it would be really nice (to run for Delilah there).”
Two and a half years ago, Delilah and Ashley met while the 11-year-old was undergoing chemotherapy. Delilah’s cancer — Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a form of cancer that occurs in the blood and marrow of bones — is currently in remission.
“I started visiting her and became friends with her,” Guarrasi said. “She had an interest in boxing and learning to train. We just became really close and she became a little sister to me now.”
Delilah was first diagnosed with cancer in October 2013 after experiencing shortness of breath, bone pain and noticing bruises on her body.
A month later, the cancer went into remission but suddenly returned in September 2015.
In December 2015, the cancer once again went into remission. Currently, Delilah and her father Gerardo check in with doctors every two weeks.
“She’s been (at the hospital) fighting all the time,” said Gerardo. “I’m lucky to have her because we feed off of each other’s energy, but really she’s the one that keeps me strong.”
Unlike others who come and go, Gerardo said Ashley is one of the few people who has never left Delilah’s side.
“Ashley and my daughter just connected,” he said. “When I found out she would be doing this for Delilah, I couldn’t believe it.”
In preparation for the Kauai half marathon, Guarrasi runs 3-10 miles 3-4 times a week and also mixes in strength training and boxing.
The training might be tough for some people, but Guarrasi said what Delilah goes through on a daily basis makes the 11-year-old “the definition of a fighter.”
“She’s the most positive little girl despite everything she’s been going through,” Guarrasi said.