Register to Ride: El Tour de Tucson is Nov. 20
Held annually the Saturday before Thanksgiving and sponsored by Banner - University Medicine, El Tour de Tucson is a fundraising adventure bike ride attracting over 6,000 cyclists of all ages and abilities from throughout the United States and worldwide. Participants include beginners, intermediate, advanced, and professional cyclists riding 100% human-powered bicycles.
This year, on Nov. 20, riders from all over will descend upon Tucson and Southern Arizona for one of the top 10 best bicycling events in Arizona and the United States. Proceeds will benefit a wide range of specialty care programs, technology, family supportive services, and the “extras” that make a hospital stay better for kids at Banner Children’s at Diamond Children’s Medical Center in Tucson.
Your participation will help Arizona children bravely battling illnesses like Elianna, Ian, Alex, and McKinley. Read more about their inspiring stories below:
Two-year-old Elianna went from a joyful, curious toddler to battling kidney cancer. Diagnosed as a Wilms tumor, the large mass that was in her stomach is the most common type of kidney cancer in children. Six weeks of chemotherapy was followed by surgery. An aggressive tumor, which had metastasized to Elianna’s lung, required four more inpatient stays, with five consecutive days of chemotherapy each time. In June 2021, Elianna’s family received incredible news: No sign of disease in her lungs and kidneys. Elianna’s journey from cancer to recovery was made gentler and kinder by her health care and Child Life teams at Diamond Children’s Medical Center. “The staff was just amazing,” Elianna’s mother Vanessa recalls, adding that the nurses walked them through every step of the process and Child Life specialists were always by Elianna’s side – playing games to calm and distract her, while preparing Elianna for upcoming treatments and procedures.
At just 2 years old, healthy and happy Ian was diagnosed with leukemia and spent nearly three weeks at Diamond Children’s, his mother Martha by his side for most of that time. He responded well to chemotherapy, finishing in October 2020. At first, Ian would cry when going back to the hospital for appointments. But then, he became “best friends,” says Martha, with the Child Life team – and one very special member, Melissa. “They are angels,” she explains. “I don’t know how they do it.” And, there is wonderful news to report: Ian is currently in remission from his leukemia!
A fiery redhead, Alex, 8, is the youngest of three children in his family. At just 18 months old, Alex was diagnosed with Giant Cell Hepatitis and Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia, which affect his liver, blood, and lungs. Currently, there are only 27 documented cases of this challenging condition. Alex’s family has searched for the right care in multiple states – eventually finding just what he needs at Diamond Children’s Medical Center in Tucson. “Alex sees so many specialists, and the doctors here are just phenomenal,” says his mother, Mylinda. “Child Life is phenomenal. Everybody is just superior here.”
Dealing with an illness associated with older individuals has not been easy for 11-year-old McKinley. Diagnosed with juvenile arthritis in Spring 2020, McKinley receives infusions through an intravenous (IV) line at Diamond Children’s every other week. IVs have been a struggle for McKinley – and, this is where Child Life steps in to support the young patient. “Melissa, in particular, on the Child Life team has made a huge difference,” says McKinley’s mother, Rebecca. “She helps her stay calm. McKinley has even asked Melissa to hold her hand. McKinley just loves Child Life.”