Lee Health Foundation has awarded Barbara’s Friends Scholarships to three local high school students, all childhood cancer survivors. The scholarships are administered through the Collaboratory and made possible through donations to Barbara’s Friends, Golisano Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund. This is the third year Lexington Country Club, a long-time supporter of Barbara’s Friends, is donating one of the scholarships.
Receiving this year’s Barbara’s Friends Scholarships are Akisha Fleuridor, Madelyne Guerro-Bravo and Rebeka Kilpatrick. Fleuridor graduated from Dunbar High School in Fort Myers in 2023 and plans to attend the University of South Florida to study exercise science. Guerro-Bravo graduated from South Fort Myers High School in 2023 and plans to attend the University of South Florida to study nursing. Kilpatrick was homeschooled, graduating from Homelife Academy, and is currently attending Florida SouthWestern State College with plans to become a science teacher.
“We want to make sure that we give you a chance at life, not just in fighting cancer, but also so you can do something with your life, give back and achieve your dreams and full potential,” said Dr. Emad Salman, vice president of operations and chief physician executive for Golisano Children’s Services, in presenting the scholarships. “We don’t want cancer to define you; you can now define your future without limits.”
Fleuridor, 17, an avid runner, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2020, and began treatments during the height of COVID-19 lockdowns. After five months of isolating treatments, she was declared cancer free.
“I have been running track ever since middle school and have always found interest in our trainers and what they do,” she said. “I decided then that I wanted to be a sports medicine physician.”
Guerro-Bravo, 17, was diagnosed with cancer when she was 9 and two years later was declared cancer free. She is the first person in her family to go to college.
“As the child of an immigrant, I understand the struggles that many families face when it comes to receiving affordable, quality health care for their children,” she said. “I would offer them my services at low or no cost and would be sure to be located in the communities that need it the most.”
Kilpatrick, 18, was diagnosed in 2006 with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. She was declared cancer free in 2009.
“When I was diagnosed with leukemia, I spent a majority of the time in the hospital and in addition to that, my mom is a physical therapist,” she said. “For a long time, I considered being a nurse because I loved the sciences and the medical field so much. However, over the years, I realized that I have a passion for teaching as well and would like to combine my passions.”
Fundraising is already underway for the 2023-24 school year. To support the scholarship program, donate at BarbarasFriends.org and note “scholarship” in the description.
About Barbara’s Friends – Helping Kids with Cancer at Golisano Children’s Hospital
Established in 1995, Barbara’s Friends provides equipment, staffing and services to support lifesaving cancer care for children from across Southwest Florida at Golisano Children’s Hospital. The Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program is the only program of its kind in Southwest Florida and has served more than 10,000 patients since opening. No child is denied treatment or turned away due to their family’s inability to pay for care. For more information about the Barbara’s Friends fund and supporting child patients in your community, please call Lee Health Foundation at (239) 343-6950 or visit BarbarasFriends.org.
About Lee Health Foundation
Lee Health Foundation raises philanthropic dollars on behalf of Lee Health to establish, expand and enhance innovative, lifesaving and preventative programs. The Foundation provides financial support for all five hospitals as well as many service areas including Lee Health Cancer Institute, Lee Health Coconut Point, The Rehabilitation Hospital, Lee Health Heart Institute, Community Health Clinics and Golisano Children’s Hospital Specialty Clinics in Port Charlotte and Naples. For more information, please visit LeeHealthFoundation.org.