LEWISBORO, N.Y. – Eight-year-old Sabrina Marciante will be dancing at Lewisboro Town Park on Saturday.
That might not seem like a big deal until you consider that on Sept. 13, the Lewisboro Elementary School student was declared cancer-free by her doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 15 months after she was diagnosed with leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The family celebrated with three different parties in one day that were attended by more than 100 people who were touched by Sabrina’s story.
When Sabrina was diagnosed with the disease in June 2011, her family’s world came crashing down.
“It was awful – the worse thing a parent can experience,” said her mom, Barbara Marciante. “She became a very sick, sad little girl. Our lives just stopped and we thought we would never be happy again.”
But the Marciantes soon became more knowledgeable about the disease and learned it was 90 percent curable. Sabrina began to respond to the treatment, though the side effects of the chemotherapy were devastating.
“The first year was very challenging,” Marciante said. “She didn’t talk for two months and she couldn’t eat. It was very scary.”
During Sabrina’s treatment period, the Marciantes were introduced to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a fund-raising event called Light the Night in October 2011. They formed a team they dubbed Bean Team in honor of Sabrina’s nickname, “Beans.”
“My husband [Stephen] and our two daughters, with the company of a few friends and neighbors, walked in honor of Sabrina,” Marciante said. “Unfortunately, Sabrina and I were not able to attend due to her admittance at Sloan-Kettering at the time.”
The money raised goes towards research and better treatments for blood cancers.
“I feel very passionate about raising money for this event,” Marciante said. “Ten years ago, families like mine decided to have fund-raisers and walk to raise money for LLS. As a result of that, Sabrina is here today and back in school. We will all be walking at this year’s Light the Night on Nov. 3, at Rye Playland.”
The Marciantes pledged to raise $10,000 for the Light the Night event, so they decided to host their own fund-raiser, which is why Sabrina will be dancing at the Town Park on Saturday. The event is called Dance to Make a Difference and will start at 10 a.m. It will feature Zumba demo classes and other family activities, including a live Candyland game, a bouncy castle and bake sale. The public is invited to come out and have some fun while contributing to a good cause.
But Sabrina’s happy ending doesn’t end there. Before being ravaged by the cancer and its treatment, the youngster had a love for cheerleading, dance and gymnastics. She was a student at Kratos Fitness & Acrobatics in Danbury, Conn., which is owned by Ashley Del Monte Anton and her husband, Mihael.
The Antons are trying to help Sabrina regain her strength and muscle tone and return to the level she was before she became ill. They have chosen Sabrina to be one of their four students who will participate in the Kellogg's Tour of Champions Event in Hartford, Conn. on Nov. 17. There she will participate in the opening and closing ceremonies alongside the 2012 Men's and Women's U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Teams
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these young athletes,” said Ashley Anton. “Just a year ago when we met [Sabrina], she did not have the strength to even sit up without assistance and had the feeling she would never make her eighth birthday. Now she will get to have the opportunity most never get in their lifetime.”
Barbara Marciante said that Sabrina is overwhelmed by the invitation.
“She is thrilled; her eyes lit up. She can’t even grasp what she is going to experience,” Marciante said. “[The Antons] are amazing, caring people and have done so much for our family. They’ve been a very big part of our lives. They brought Sabrina a birthday cake and presents on her birthday and have gone a long way to help her rebuild her self-esteem.”