SHERMAN – “She’s always on my mind, she’s always behind all of us,” says Heather Malson of her daughter Julia. 10 years ago, the vibrant teen became sick out of the blue. She suffered from aplastic anemia involving bone marrow failure.
“At the very end when I knew she wasn’t going to make it, we promised her we would never stop fighting this disease for as long as I’m here, so, I think this is just us keeping that promise,” Heather told News 8 in August of 2019, as she was preparing for a Julia’s Wings gala to raise money to support families fighting the devastating disorder. Last year, the fundraiser was canceled due to the pandemic but progress continues.
“It’s exciting – we’ve entered a research partnership with Boston Children’s and Dana Farber…we’re going to fund $20,000 over five years for a total of $100,000 in research for aplastic anemia,” explains Heather in a recent ZOOM interview. “That was always our hope when we started this to fund research, and it was Julia’s wish to help families, so we do both.”
And this week, the Malsin’s community is taking part in Operation Wear Red, showing support and raising awareness by lighting up landmarks.
“We hung lights in New Milford and also our town of Sherman,” says Heather. “It’s kind of neat when you drive around and see the bows and you don’t even know who lives there, but it’s nice.”
She doesn’t want to see another family go through the pain they’ve experienced: “If we could possibly just save one family from this nightmare, then it’s worth every ounce of energy we put into it.”
The fall fundraiser will likely be postponed again, but the Malsins are coming-up with creative fundraising ideas to keep helping others in honor of Julia.