PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – A family in Tampa Bay that lost their son to pediatric cancer is helping support other families facing similar medical battles by hosting charity events and raising awareness through the not-for-profit Finn’s Fighters Foundation.

Credit: Christen Gray | CW44 News At 10

Finn was only five when doctors located a tumor on his spine. After multiple surgeries, chemotherapy infusions, blood and platelet transfusions and multiple hospital stays – Finn was able to ‘ring the bell’ in May of 2019. Finn needed to re-learn to walk and spent the summer traveling and just being a kid. That Fall, the cancer returned and Finn had lost his battle by January 2020.
Finn’s mother, Christen Gray says Finn’s Fighters was started in May 2019 as a way for her family to continue to fight for cancer awareness locally, but also a means to pay it forward after the community rallied around her family with emotional, financial, and spiritual support. She adds, “We wanted to keep it local. There are plenty of other amazing organizations out there that do research and fundraising – but because of our experience and because we found other people like us that needed help — need financial support… when a child is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is diagnosed, in theory.”  
Gray says Finn’s Fighters is committed to increasing awareness of pediatric cancer and supporting families facing medical crisis in the Tampa Bay area.
“The gala is a way for us to raise funds. We’re excited! When we first started planning the gala, Covid put a damper on that, so we had to postpone it, but all our supporters said, ‘Keep it. We know that we are going to come back one day!'”
That day has returned. Regarding the gala event, Gray says, “We were mindful of Covid restrictions and following CDC guidelines and we have a smaller version of the event. So, we actually purposefully [limited capacity]. We have sold out 200 tickets, even though the venue could seat more.”
Pediatric Oncologist, Dr Erin Cockrell with St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa says organizations like Finn’s Fighters are crucial in the battle against cancer. “We would not be nearly where we are today without organizations like Finn’s Fighters. From the get-go, Christen wanted to give back,” said Dr. Cockrell, adding “We rely on donations and people to support hospitals – and ways that we can support these families. Because again, it is just life-changing. It turns the world around.”
As a parent who had a child with cancer, Gray enjoys being able to draw from her experience to help others. “That’s what I am most proud of, is that we’re so impactful in the community. People reach out to us now, seek us out. When somebody is newly diagnosed, they seek us out.”
Not only does Gray want to help those in medical crisis, but also to continue educating the public about pediatric cancer. She says “not only do we need to give children a chance, but also we need to give children a chance at a long life.” 
And to let Finn’s fight continue. Dr. Cockrell adds, “This will be his legacy. And to carry on his legacy, to help so many people and families to go through what they had to go through.” 
To learn more about Finn’s Fighters, his story and how you can help or receive help, please visit Finn’s Fighters website.