A group of Marietta sixth-graders is hosting a dance tonight to raise money for a classmate diagnosed with a bone tumor in November.
The “Freedom Dance” will be tonight at North Metro Church in Marietta for 11-year-old Mary Tankersley, whose family learned last fall that she had osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor.
Sixth-graders from North Metro Church and Lost Mountain Middle School in Kennesaw are invited to participate in the fundraiser. Tankersley is in sixth-grade at the school, and her father, Tray Tankersley, preaches at North Metro.
“Friends and family wanted to get together to help and show support for the Tankersley family,” said Kari Pascoe, a Lost Mountain parent and the benefit’s organizer.
They have prepared for about 200 children to attend the dance, which will showcase a DJ, scooter races and hula-hoop contests with prizes, dinner from Marietta Pizza Company, as well as candy, baked goods and drinks.
“God just stirred my heart that there was something I could do,” Pascoe said. “I know that the sixth graders are powerful and they don’t need to be bystanders. They have the capability to do something to help as well.”
Mary’s mother, Alicia Tankersley, said this will be the first fundraiser held in Mary’s honor. And while her daughter hasn’t been able to return to school and may not be able to attend the dance, she is encouraged by her classmates’ support.
“The students have been great, and I think it’s really good for them,” she said. “I think they want to be involved and they want to help and this is a fun, easy way for them to help.”
Tankersley, who described her daughter as a bookworm who loves music, said they learned about Mary’s tumor after visiting an orthopedist to check on an ailing knee.
“They sent us straight to Children’s Hospital (of Atlanta), and that’s when we learned she was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma,” she said.
Mary underwent 10 weeks of chemotherapy shortly after the diagnosis, had a very rare surgery called rotationplasty and now is undergoing another 18-week round of chemotherapy.
The surgery required doctors to remove a portion of Mary’s leg, including the knee, rotating it and reattaching it so that the ankle joint would then serve as the knee joint. A prosthetic is then placed over the ankle.
“She’s been amazing,” Alicia said about Mary. “She has a great attitude. She just keeps going.”
Alicia’s husband, Tray, and 10-year-old son, Will, have also been very helpful to Mary’s regaining her strength, especially her younger brother, whom Tankersley said “has been a great supporter.”
Anyone interested in making a donation to help fund research for Osteosarcoma can visit Mary’s Rally Foundation Web page. To date, they have raised more than $8,000 in her honor.