Jennifer's Heroes: The Gala Family; Ishan Gala Foundation

By: Jennifer Black Email
By: Jennifer Black Email

August 27, 2009

A cancer called neuroblastoma would never allow Ishan Gala to see his third birthday. And his parents have used that devastating loss to full their determination to help others.

Friday would have been Ishan's third birthday, and on Saturday, August 29, the Ishan Gala Foundation will host its fist major event, in his honor.

Ishan's father, Mayank Gala believes that when you witness any child that is fighting cancer, you are going to witness a courageous spirit. Unfortunately, for Mayank and his wife Sejal, seeing a child with cancer is something they witnessed first hand.

"After the third kemo he had a big surgery and that was a very determining surgery, 11 1/2 hours long, and from there he went down hill. He lost all his hair, his eyebrows and eyelashes," said Sejal Gala.

Ishan was just 15 months old at the time of the doctor's diagnosis. Mayank and Sejal say experiencing his life, in and out of the hospital, has driven them to continue Ishan's fighting spirit.

"When I spent one week at Sloan Kettering, I knew that this was what I was supposed to do. I knew that helping these children fight cancer was what we were going to do with the rest of our lives. It rages in my heart every day," said Mayank.

Less than one week after Ishan's death, Mayank got to work, creating a foundation in his son's name to support research initiatives and create awareness for pediatric cancer.

"I want people to know this is real this isn't something that we're doing because this year is a tough year and we're just trying to find something to cope. This is a foundation that will be a life-long endeavor for us," he said.

The foundation provides an opportunity for Mayank and Sejal to take everything Ishan gave to them, and give back to the pediatric cancer community.

"He taught us to love people, not things. He taught us to have joy in all situations, because if you watch his video, you'll see that through everything, he just always put a smile on his face," said Mayank.

Mayank and Sejal Gala may be heroes this week, but they say Ishan is their hero, a hero that is now a symbol in the fight against pediatric cancer.

Saturday's event hosted by the Ishan Gala Foundation is a pool party called "Splash for a Cure". The event will be held at one of Ishan's favorite places, the ACAC Water Park

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