At fifteen years old, you had your whole life ahead of you, with goals for success in school, romance, a job. But what if that future was cast into doubt? For Carlsbad sophomore Kassandra Longoria, dreams of college, marriage, and career have had to take a back seat to what is in front of her right now: fighting for her life against cancer.
A student at Carlsbad High School, Kassie is in her second round of cancer after her initial diagnosis with Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) in 2011. HLH is a rare disorder of the immune system that is often treated with chemotherapy. In Kassie’s case, despite treatments, the cancer returned as non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2013, and her best hope for treatment now is through a stem cell transplant. Unfortunately, a planned stem cell treatment last summer fell through.
Kassie’s aunt and guardian, Esmeralda Sandoval, is a teacher at Calavera Hills Middle School in Carlsbad Unified School District. On her single income, Kassie’s medical bills are overwhelming, not to mention the emotional toll. Fortunately, the Carlsbad community rallies together when one of their own is in need, and the Mitchell Thorp Foundation has selected Kassie as a focus of their fundraising this spring. MTF was started after Carlsbad residents Brad and Beth Thorp lost their son Mitchell at age 18 to a five year battle with cancer. Their mission now is to support other Southern California families facing similar hardships with emotional, financial, and other basic care support. Sponsoring special events such as this fundraiser is just one way they contribute.
Esmeralda expressed her gratitude for all the support already shown towards her niece Kassie and herself: “We are so grateful of all the support from the Carlsbad community, my peers, students, friends and strangers that have given us so much needed support and words of encouragement.” Her thanks extend also to the Mitchell Thorp Foundation “for helping us in such a short notice and their kind words. We are truly blessed to be part of this community.”
Other community entities are also getting involved, namely Sage Creek High School, where a benefit concert will be held on Saturday, May 3 in partnership between the school and the MTF. The event has been dubbed “Music for Hope” and will include three top-notch young musicians, a silent auction, raffle items, and food for sale. All proceeds from the auction and raffle go directly to supporting Kassandra Longoria and her family’s needs during this tough time. Other district schools are getting in on it, gathering donations and auction items from Valley Middle, Aviara Oaks Middle and Elementary, Calavera Hills Middle and Elementary, Pacific Rim, magnolia, and Buena Vista Elementaries, and Carlsbad Village Academy. Local businesses are contributing great auction items as well, including restaurant certificates, home cleaning and salon services, Moonlight theater tickets, Legoland tickets, hotel stays, photography, and more. Some of the businesses pitching in are Cold Stone Creamery, Taylor Made Golf, Las Olas, Norte Restaurant, Carlsbad Village Yoga, Daily News Café, Linda’s Yogurt, Pronto's Market, Grand Avenue Restaurant, School of Rock music school, and many others.
The lineup for the Carlsbad's Music of Hope benefit concert includes spectacular emerging talents from the Sothern California area. Lindsey Carrier, an artist with vocal qualities that have been compared to Adele or Sarah Bareilles, will perform, as well as Alaina Blair whose county/rock crossover style is earning her much acclaim and spots opening for artists such as Macy Gray, Jonny Lang, and 3 Doors Down. San Diegan Cody Lovaas, a young singer-songwriter whose acoustic sound follows the tradition of artists such as Jason Mraz, John Mayer, and Jack Johnson will round out the program. Patrons are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to enjoy this family-friendly event in an outdoor venue. Gates open at 4 PM and music will begin at 5 PM.
Organizers hope that this event inspires much community support. While showcasing young, local talent, it will also hopefully be a “Carlsbad for Carlsbad” event, as Teanna Evans, family friend, Sage Creek High teacher, and co-organizer expresses. Their vision of a successful benefit is one that will “bring together Carlsbad families and friends to support one of our own.” Be a part of the Music for Hope concert for Kassie and her chance for a future.