By Brenda L. Holmes
Two young Hendricks County cancer survivors continue to raise awareness and funds as their friendship grows stronger.
Maeci Young, 13, of Danville, and Gracie Bennett, 6, of Avon, met in 2010 when they were both receiving chemotherapy treatments at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
Maeci is the daughter of Keli and Jay Young and Gracie is the daughter of Chris and Stephanie Bennett.
Gracie was diagnosed with Oligoastrocytoma, a brain tumor, in February 2010. Maeci had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in April of that same year.
The two families met during treatment and have become the best of friends. The girls even ended up taking their Make A Wish trip together at Disney World.
“Keli and I were talking and she said she would request me as a friend on Facebook,” said Stephanie Bennett. “At that time, I had just gotten on Facebook. I think we instantly became friends.”
The families even spend New Year’s Eve together each year.
The girls are both done with their chemotherapy treatments. Maeci has been in remission for two years, but still goes back to see her doctors every six months.
Gracie has an MRI every three months and her tumor seems to have stabilized.
After their Make A Wish trip, the girls decided they wanted to make wishes come true for other children so they started the Maeci & Gracie’s Gives Back A Wish Softball Tournament in 2011.
They’ve been able to grant wishes for six Make A Wish children, including a dear friend of theirs, Brianna “Princess Bri” McQueen.
Her wish was granted during the WZPL Radio-A-Thon.
McQueen was the daughter of Steve and Angie McQueen of Mooresville. She also had a brain tumor and had become great friends with Gracie during their chemo treatments.
She lost her battle with cancer on March 21, 2012, and the girls dedicated the softball tournament in her honor.
This year’s softball tournament is May 18 at the Avon Softball Park.
The entry fee is $200 per team. All funds go to Maeci and Gracie’s foundation.
“We created the foundation so we can donate to other organizations,” Bennett said. “Now, along with Make A Wish, we will be able to donate to Riley Hospital, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.”
Jay Young said it’s a funny feeling when people recognize the girls out in public.
“You just don’t realize how big this has gotten,” he said. “People will point and say, ‘Hey, that’s Maeci and Gracie.’”
Young said it was the prayers and well wishes that helped the families through the initial treatment.
A friend of the family even wrote a song in Maeci’s honor called, “God’s Got It.” It’s written and performed by Jim Jackson and can be found on Youtube or Facebook.
The Maeci and Gracie Give Back Foundation fund is being facilitated by the Hendricks County Community Foundation. They are currently trying to raise the initial $5,000 to become a permanent endowment.
Anyone can donate to the fund through the community foundation.
Checks may be made payable to the Hendricks County Community Foundation and mailed to 6319 E. U.S. 36, Suite 211, Avon IN, 46123.
The memo on the check should say “Maeci and Gracie Give Back.”