It is rare - and perhaps even a first - that the Komen Philadelphia Affiliate awards our Pink Ribbon of the Month to an activist who has been with us for just a couple of months. Also rare is that this recognition goes to a supporter barely one decade old! These two facts in and of themselves attest to the power embodied in the passion of ten-year-old Ariana Flores.
On October 29, 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series, and Ariana Veronique Flores and her family spent their first night in their new South Philadelphia home. It was a night of celebration and champions for our community. One team, being hailed the champions of baseball. And one special girl putting down roots that would shortly lead her to be recognized as one of the youngest, most ambitious champions of the Komen Philadelphia Affiliate. Given this start, it's appropriate the first public Komen Philadelphia Affiliate event in which Ariana participated was the 2012 Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure Rally of Champions, this past January - where she proudly shared her first commandment of Race participation.
Deep down in her heart, Ariana's passion for empowering the breast cancer movement was inspired by the death of her grandmother to the disease... five years before Ariana was born. However, it was a school assignment that 'sparked the fire' when she was assigned by her 5th grade Math teacher to track the attendance of an event for 5-7 years. Ariana chose the Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure and, in true Ariana push-the-envelope fashion, was soon sitting down with the CEO of the Komen Philadelphia Affiliate to learn anything and everything she could.
"It took me about 30 seconds to see a level of passion and compassion in this young lady that truly embodied the spirit of our namesake, Susan G. Komen," said Elaine I. Grobman, CEO. "To see that type of dedication is truly special in an adult of 30 or 40, let alone a ten year old. I've been leading our local fight for over two decades, and I never experienced such energy and inspiration in a 'child' as I have with Ariana. There is no doubt, with someone with her strength and conviction leading her generation, ALL generations will one day be living in a world free from breast cancer."
Since that initial meeting, Ariana and The Affiliate continue to grow their friendship, and Ariana has taken extraordinary action to support the 2012 Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure - quickly becoming an advocate, fundraising phenom and so much more. She now co-captains with her mother, the Race Team "From the Hart" in memory of her grandmother, is pursuing all types of team fundraising initiatives and this February 3, will also make two appearances at the Race Kick-Off Party - first as the Ambassador representing Philadelphia County in the Kids for the Cure®: UnitedHealthcare Dash to Make a Difference, and later in the program donning pink boxing gloves to show her determination to 'come out fighting' against breast cancer.
"I know I have my whole life ahead of me to help make a difference in the fight against breast cancer, but I also know the sooner I get involved, the greater the impact I can make," says Ariana. "No matter what age you are, you can be a source of support and hope for others simply by helping them to believe together we can fight breast cancer and one day cure it."
And so, as Ariana embarks on her first Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure experience - we proudly recognize her with our Pink Ribbon of the Month, share her story with you, and thank her for filling the lives of youth and adults alike with tremendous hope in the cures.