At only 18 months old, Leyna Ahlschwede of Pickrell was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma. Now seven years old and cancer free, Leyna and her family will lead the 19th annual Miracle Miles for Kids walkathon. The walkathon is sponsored by the Beatrice American Legion Post 27 family and the Auxiliary, and takes place at the Veteran’s Club on Saturday, June 15

This year’s Miracle Miles for Kids walkathon in Beatrice will be led by a special community member.

Seven-year-old Leyna Ahlschwede of Pickrell and her family will lead the 19th annual walkathon at the Veteran’s Club on Saturday, June 15.

In February 2013, at only 18 months old, Leyna was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma.

“We were told to call our family and prepare our other children to say their goodbyes,” Karri Ahlschwede, Leyna's mother, said. “Her prognosis was very poor. After just four days in the hospital, Leyna was no longer able to eat or urinate as the solid tumor began to shut off her ureters and put tremendous pressure kidneys and digestive track.”

After two weeks at the Children’s Hospital, five rounds of chemotherapy and numerous blood transfusions, Leyna’s tumor shrunk to an operable size.

Ahlschwede said it took Leyna’s doctor over eight hours to remove all traces of her tumor, and that afterwards Leyna ended up on a ventilator and dialysis for acute kidney failure.

“After a month in the ICU and many days of almost giving up hope, Leyna finally pulled through and went straight to the Oncology floor for more chemotherapy to prepare her for her next step in treatment, [a] stem cell transplant,” Ahlschwede said.

Over a year after her first diagnoses, Leyna was declared “no evidence of disease” on May 23, 2014.

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Five years later, Karri says Leyna is looking forward to 2nd grade at Freeman Elementary, loves playing with her siblings and her fainting goats and enjoys life to the fullest.

“We are so grateful for all the wonderful nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, Child Life specialists, social workers and other team members that cared for Leyna over the years…for their dedication to giving our child the best care available, and for always seeing her as more than just another kid with cancer,” Ahlschwede said.

The walkathon is sponsored by the Beatrice American Legion Post 27 family and the Auxiliary, and raises money for the Children’s Hospital of Omaha, a Children’s Miracle Network-affiliated hospital. Donations go towards buying up-to-date equipment at hospitals, training staff, conducting lifesaving research, implementing outreach programs and providing healthcare for children that are unable to afford it.

The event will include refreshments, door prizes and entertainment. Registration begins at 9 a.m., followed by an opening ceremony. The walk is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., with an award ceremony at 11:30 a.m.

The walkathon is officially three miles in length, but participants can walk as much as they wish.

Registration forms are available at the Veteran's Club on 701 Dorsey Street, and will also be available the day of.

For any questions and additional information, contact Marian Melcher, the Legion's children and youth chairman, at 402-239-0746.

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