Giving up is not an option for 13-year old Dara Korne. The bright-eyed teen with a shy smile simply has too much she wants to accomplish.
Dara is this year’s junior winner of the MCH’s Best Care for Children award.
Shortly after her fifth birthday, Dara began feeling tired – a lot. Her parents brought her to see the doctor and Dara was diagnosed with leukemia. Dara was in treatment for 153 weeks.
She was in remission until age nine, when the cancer returned. Dara’s resolve to defeat the cancer again was unshakeable. “Okay, so let’s beat this. I did it once, let’s do it again,” she told her doctors. Buoyed by her family and friends, Dara’s indomitable spirit was not about to let cancer get the best of her. A new best friend, Snaps, a golden retriever and poodle mix, was instrumental in helping her get through chemo sessions. Dara’s face beams when she talks about him, and as if on cue, Snaps enters the room to check on her. “I’ve always wanted a dog. When we went to get a dog, I sat down on the floor; he just walked over. I think he picked me,” says Dara. During this second bout of cancer, her treatments went on for 108 weeks. She would think about coming home to Snaps and that kept her going.
Dara is passionate about hip—hop, swimming, reading, and writing. She aspires to be a writer and dancer but her creativity doesn’t end there. With a flair for interior design, she points to the recently—painted wall in her bedroom and says with great delight, “Purple, I love purple!”
In 2004, the Dara Meaghan Foundation was created and has since raised $200,000.
For Dara her fund is about making a difference in the lives of children. The Child Life Services Department received $26,000 from Dara’s foundation which has gone towards iPads, games, and other recreational material to help distract children from their treatments and long hospitalization. The Korne family also acquired ‘Mexican Hats’ – used exclusively in Oncology – to collect measure urine. Prior to this, patients had to use cumbersome bedpans. When Dara was in the hospital, she often needed assistance since the bedpans were wobbly and extremely uncomfortable. The Mexican Hat collects and measure the urine at the same time, and the soft thin plastic material slips under the toilet seat, making it more comfortable for patients. Dara’s foundation also has made possible several much-needed acquisitions: A Gammacell Irradiator, a chemotherapy recliner, chemotherapy syringe pumps, infant and pediatric scales, and blood pressure monitors, to name a few.
When asked what MCH means to her, Dara’s enthusiasm is evident. “It means a lot. I have my foundation and I like to raise money to help the hospital’s patients because I know what it actually feels like. It’s not happy. But I like to make things happy. I just want to help the children.”