By Katie NavarraThe American Quarter Horse JournalAugust 17, 2013
It’s summertime and lemonade stands are abundant. Young entrepreneurs are setting-up roadside stands on weekends to earn spending money and patrons can always find a super-sized hand-squeezed lemonade at fairs and horse shows.
But, the lemonade stand at the 2013 AQHA Region Five Championship is no ordinary lemonade stand.
Opening day of the show netted Little Deb’s Lemonade Stand $1,000 for the Deborah Rose Foundation. The not-for-profit established earlier this year raises funds to cover medical expenses for leadline exhibitor 5-year old Deborah “Debbie” Mastrolacasa of Andover, New Jersey.
In March 2013, Debbie was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma.
“Neuroblastoma is a term for a tumor in the abdomen area,” explained James Mastrolacasa, Debbie’s father.
Since receiving her initial diagnosis, Debbie has undergone chemotherapy and will receive a bone marrow treatment, requiring a four- to five-month hospital stay and an additional four to five months at home recuperating.
“Until that treatment starts, we’re letting her get in as much as she can,” said James, including attending horse camp earlier this month and making a debut at her first Quarter Horse event during the Region Five Championship on August 16.
Several days prior to the show, Debbie was hospitalized with a blood infection. With zero white blood cells and no immune system to fight the infection, she needed antibiotics and a blood and platelet transfusion.
“She told her doctors that she had a horse show this weekend that she wasn’t going to miss it! So the doctors doubled up her treatments all week long just so she could be here,” James said.
Debbie wasted no time preparing for her class at the horse show.
“She hangs her ribbons (that she won last year) from her IV pole and uses the tubes as a lead line,” James said. “You can hear her clucking and saying, ‘Come on "Sorry".' ”
Her practice paid off during the leadline class on Friday. She piloted Put Puttin Ace, owned by Jessica Coulson, to a successful finish. She was presented with a bouquet of pink flowers and a tote-bag full of goodies.
“Riding has been something that we do together,” James said. “It was something I had always wanted to do as a kid so it was a dream come true when we started riding together. I miss our regular riding time and look forward to when we can begin again.”
About the Deborah Rose Foundation
The Deborah Rose Foundation was originally founded on Facebook as a means of providing regular updates on Debbie’s condition.
“Everyone in God’s creation wanted to know what was going on, and after the first two weeks, we stopped picking up the phone,” James said.
Debbie’s parents began posting regular updates. They also reached out to other families seeking advice.
“We received responses from all over the country on where to go and what new treatments were available,” James said.
To follow Debbie’s progress, to learn more about the Deborah Rose Foundation or to make a donation, visit the foundation’s Facebook page.
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