PEPPERELL — By all accounts, Ayva Rose Parsons is an adorable 2-year-old who has brightened many lives. Now those she has touched are looking to give back by helping Ayva’s family fight leukemia.
Their effort is called Ayva’s Ride, which will integrate a motorcycle tour in southern New Hampshire with a weekend barbecue and music at the Pepperell VFW on June 24.
The motorcycle tour is a natural choice, given the number of people in Ayva’s life who “ride,” said event organizer Mindy Buxton, and the barbecue and music give it a wider appeal. She said her hope is that people will turn out for a good time and to help the cause.
“It’s a great thing, and just by going there and buying a plate of food your helping by making sure this family will get what they need,” she said.
Buxton and other friends felt they had to do something when Ayva was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in late April, said Pepperell resident and Ayer town accountant Lisa Gabree.
While they can’t single-handedly cure cancer, she said they can help Ayva’s parents, who are taking time off from work to be with their child during the intensive cancer treatment.
“It’s not only emotionally devastating, it’s a financial hardship on the family,” she said. “It’s additional expenses as well as a loss of income.”
Speaking from Children’s Hospital in Boston, Ayva’s mother, Malisa Mignosa, said her focus is on medicine and being with her child instead of money, but they really appreciate the help.
“Financially it’s going to be very tough,” she said. “Right now it’s only been a month, so it’s not detrimental yet, but we definitely can use all the help we can get.”
That spirit of helping out is seen at the Ayer Cutting Spot, where Mignosa works as a hairdresser. She’s been a fixture there in recent years, but has largely been at the hospital since the diagnosis.
Instead, Cutting Spot visitors are greeted by Ayva’s Run T-shirts and collection jars. Similar collection points have been set up in Pepperell at CNS pizza and Clark’s Auto Body, where Ayva’s father, Sean Parsons, works.
Buxton had a hand in organizing those efforts and said support has been strong.
“That little girl has touched so many lives,” she said. “I never realized how many people love her. It’s amazing.”
Registration for the ride will begin at 9 a.m. at the Pepperell VFW, 55 Leighton St. The three-hour tour will begin at 10 a.m. The cookout will follow at 1:30 p.m. with raffles and live entertainment.
Event organizers are asking $20 for the ride and $10 for the cookout.
Information about Ayva’s Run is available via e-mail at email@example.com. Donations can also be made to Ayva Parsons Fund, c/o North Middlesex Savings Bank, P.O. Box 307, Pepperell, MA 01463 or in person at any branch location.