FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) – In the LivFree office, you will find walls of pictures showing cancer patients enjoying an outing and online, you will see a touching video of the little girl who started the mission.
“Once upon a time, there was a very beautiful baby girl named Lauren,” says Lauren Vieira, about to turn ten years old, narrating her incredible story.
“People don’t believe that I had cancer. Some of my friends at school don’t believe I had cancer,” she says.
The video shows Lauren at one and a half taking her chemotherapy after a diagnosis of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.
Her parents’ world was rocked.
“I didn’t even know what an oncologist was. I was like, what’s an oncologist,” says Lauren’s dad, Dan.
“I would sleep with her monitor right near me so I could hear her breathing in and out. It was the only way I would lay down in my bed,” says mom, Katrina.
The town raised some money for the family, and they used a portion to pay it forward, bringing a moment of joy to another patient.
“I felt an obligation to help them. I knew that if we were struggling, then they were struggling as well,” Dan said.
And this is when the LivFree Foundation was born.
Named for Lauren’s initials, the non-profit provides patients and their families a fun break from treatment at a show, sports games and more.
“Up here, we have two cancer fighters who were able to meet Adam Sandler when he was here in Bridgeport,” says Dan.
“I think they’re doing really good helping people with cancer, sending them to trips and all fun events,” says Lauren.
LivFree was also founded to honor siblings like Lauren’s brother, Armando.
“He was the healthy child. He was bounced around from grandparent to grandparent, mom to dad,” says Dan.
Lauren is now cancer-free, and the whole family is committed to expanding the small organization’s reach to help as many young patients as possible.
“We’ve dedicated our lives to helping families like ours,” says Dan.
LivFree is already helping patients all the way out in California.
Click here if you know someone who could use LivFree’s services.